Compose vs. Comprise

What is the difference between compose and comprise?

There are many pairs of words in the English language that have similar meanings but different spellings. Even though the meanings may be similar, the way in which you use the words is also different. This causes a lot of confusion for those who are learning English because they are afraid that they may use the word in the wrong way and look foolish. Two such words are “compose” and “comprise” but it is not hard to tell the difference in how to use these words when you follow a few simple guidelines.

Both words mean “contain’. You can say that the “house contains many rooms” and you can also say that the “house comprises many rooms”. In this case the words are interchangeable. However you can say that the” house is composed of many rooms”, but you cannot say the “house is comprised of many rooms”, because “comprised of” is not grammatically correct.

When you use compose or comprise as a present tense verb, it is correct to use either one in a sentence. The difference arises when you changed the verb to past tense.  It is acceptable to use “of” with compose, but not with comprise.

Correct sentence: Our nation is composed of many different ethnic groups.

Incorrect sentence: Our nation is comprised of many different ethnic groups.