Actually I was practicing for my English writing test, and I'm not sure whether such usage is correct. Any help will be appreciated.

As described in the second figure, married couples constituted the most dominant group in terms of adult marital status in both 1970 and 2000, though the corresponding percentage dropped from 70% to under 60%. People who never married contributed the second largest group in both years, which accounted for roughly 15% then 20% of the total population of adult Americans.

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  • 1
    "Most dominant" seems redundant; "dominant" would be better. Better still, rather than hitting the thesaurus for fancy words, why not use simpler words such as "were" and "largest," and put the writing effort instead into presenting a clearer picture of the sequence of events. Since you are relying heavily on parallel development in the two sentences (from 1970 to 2000), use parallel language with fewer different words.
    – David K
    May 25, 2017 at 13:12

4 Answers 4


Contribute means to help, to give something, to participate:

This author contributes to our magazine.
This factor contributes to the majority of aircraft accidents.

I suggest the following wordings for the second sentence:

People who never married made up the second largest group in both years.
People who never married formed the second largest group in both years.

or even:

The second largest group in both years consisted of people who never married.


"Constituted" is both semantically and grammatically correct the way you are using it.

"Contributed", however, is not. If you don't want to use "constituted" in consecutive sentences for stylistic reasons, olegst's suggestions are excellent. You could also simply use "were"

People who never married were the second largest group in both years


I would use other verbs:

formed/belonged in the most dominant/the second largest group

  • 1
    belong to emphasizes that these people just were part of the group whereas in fact they defined the group, not just were part of it.
    – olegst
    May 25, 2017 at 9:53
  • @Olegst: Yes, I've corrected my answer; the meaning of "belong in" is 'be rightly assigned to a specified category'.
    – Yulia
    May 25, 2017 at 10:06
  • @Olegst: Please see this en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/belong, 3.1.
    – Yulia
    May 25, 2017 at 12:30
  • @Yulia Sorry, I overlooked, you are right. Anyway it doesn't convey the intended meaning as the OP put it.
    – olegst
    May 25, 2017 at 12:34

I believe the synonym you seek is: comprised.

from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

  1. "to be made up of"
    • The factory was to be a vast installation, comprising fifty buildings. Jane Jacobs
    • The play comprises three acts.

in your example, you would simply replace contributed with comprised; thus resulting in the following:

People who never married comprised the second largest group in both years

as others have said, the word contribute should not be used in the manner of your example.

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