Blog Excerpts

One Man's Quest to Correct "Comprise" Usage

The story of Steve Henderson — a software engineer bent on single-handedly fixing every use of the word comprise in Wikipedia entries where compose would be more appropriate — has captured the popular imagination. Yesterday, Southern California Public Radio invited our own Ben Zimmer to explain the difference and weigh in on the wisdom of Henderson's quest.

Listen to the full story below, or read about the compose/comprise distinction here.

About 8 million English Wikipedia articles are visited every hour of every day, yet only a tiny fraction of readers click the 'edit' button in the top right corner of every page.

Bryan Henderson is not most users. The 51-year-old software engineer has a pet peeve when it comes to people who misuse the phrase "comprised of." Under the moniker Giraffedata, he's made more than 47,000 edits to the site since 2007.

Joining the show to talk more about is another man with a deep passion for grammar, Ben Zimmer, executive editor of vocabulary dot com and language columnist with the Wall Street Journal.

You can read Henderson's case for why you shouldn't use "comprised of" here.

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Comments from our users:

Monday February 16th 2015, 3:41 AM
Comment by: Wessel G. (South Africa)
When using "comprise" in a sentence it has no preposition: "the heart comprises four chambers".

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