The Writing Resource
Bite-Sized Lessons to Improve Your Writing
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Wanted to subscribe to your blog. Found it quite useful for my self. Could you please send across a link to subscribe to your blog.
Thanks, Adam. There are two RSS buttons in the right column: one just above my picture and one in the “Continue the Conversation” section just below my picture. Both go to http://feeds.feedburner.com/thewritingresource/fyzt. Cheers!
Loved the paddle in adjectives. Looking forward to further forays.
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My coworker always says:
I will comprise a letter. Shouldn’t the sentence be I will compose a letter or is the word comprise correct. Thank you!
Hi, T. Although comprise and compose have an overlapping definition, this is not that definition. Comprise means “to consist of,” “to contain,” or “to compose [or] constitute,” according to the American Heritage Dictionary, and all the dictionaries that I checked (including the massive Oxford English Dictionary) agree.
Compose means “to make up the constituent parts of,” “to make or create by putting together parts or elements,” “to create or produce (a literary or musical piece),” “to make (oneself) calm or tranquil,” “to settle or adjust; reconcile,” or “to arrange aesthetically or artistically,” also according to AHD. The first definition is the one comprise and compose share, but it’s the third definition that your coworker intends when he or she writes a letter.
Your coworker composes a letter, which may comprise a lot of details.
Thanks for your question!
You know, Erin, there is a fascinating social dynamic at work here. Why is it that readers like “T” above, with his/her question about comprise vs compose, would rather write to you than pick up a dictionary? And bless you, you patiently went to work and wrote out in detail what that individual could have figured out in, say, 3 minutes–even though I’m sure it took you much longer to check ALL your dictionaries including American Heritage and the OED. Don’t you find it curious? To me it’s a fascinating aspect of the Web, and in particular Linkedin and Facebook.
I think it’s human nature: it’s easier to ask someone than do the research. I remember working in offices with other copyeditors, and we’d routinely pick each other’s brains rather than open a book or browser window. I like the questions because they keep me thinking and learning.
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