From http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/consist-comprise-or-compose

Comprise is more formal than consist:

The USA comprises 50 states.

We can also use it in the passive voice in the form ‘be comprised of’:

The course is comprised of ten lectures and five seminars on the theory of economics and banking.

Comprise, but not compose, can be used with the parts that make up something as the subject:

Oil and coal comprise 70% of the nation’s exports.

Can I say the first example in different ways, similarly to the second example as:

The USA is comprised of 50 states.

As passive voice version to the original example:

The USA is comprised with/by 50 states.

Similarly to the third example:

50 states comprise the USA.

Similarly can I write for the second and the third examples?

2 Answers 2


The USA is comprised of 50 states.

is the passive aspect of comprise. Note the line included in your source:

We can also use it in the passive voice in the form ‘be comprised of’:

We use of not by or with with comprise.

Your other sentences are fine.

As for the 2nd and 3rd example, yes you can change those around. Comprise nowadays, as this dictionary notes, means both to compose and to be composed of. Not every teacher agrees with that. But if anyone complains about your use of comprise, just show them the Cambridge Dictionary page you have cited here. This post from ELU is also a good resource: Compose and Comprise.


At school I was taught that the verb "comprise" = "consist of" so by writing "is comprised of" you are, in effect, writing "is consisted of of". Apply that argument to the above examples and you will see which are correct and incorrrect.

  • Are you really arguing that a major dictionary is flat wrong, on the strength of a single simplistic rule of thumb learned in school? Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 17:50

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