Mnemonics: Comprise vs. Compose

I’ve struggled, lo these many years, with a serious issue comprising two interlocking problems:
1. The distinction between “compose” and “comprise” (which are not synonyms, no matter how those hacks at the New York Times use them) and
2. A mnemonic device for remembering that distinction.

Finally, Saturday, subconsciously inspired by multiple readings of this usage post and certain child-induced nocturnal stressors, I woke up in the middle of the night with what appears to be (2), thus perhaps dissolving (1) with a laser-like beam of certitude. Forthwith:

The synonyms “comprise” and “contain” both contain the letter “i” whereas the synonyms “compose” and “make up” do not.

I know; I know. It’s no “every good boy deserves fudge” or even a “Roy G. Biv.” But it works for me, and maybe it’ll work for you. Now, where’d I put that mnemonic for the amendments to the Constitution?

4 thoughts on “Mnemonics: Comprise vs. Compose”

  1. More correct: Bach would compose music, comprising notes; Since “comprise” is synonymous with”consisting of” OR “containing”, the extra “of” in comprised of, is redundant.

  2. dude, i need sum freakin mnemonics for the tenth, 15th, 24th amendments. i cant freakin find good ones anywhere. aaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!

    rippin out my hair rite now.

  3. Um. Wow.

    OK, this isn’t a mnemonic, but the way I remember it is that “comprise” means “embrace” – for some reason, making the synonym a non “c” word helps me remember it, and subsituting “embrace” for “comprise” (in your head) makes sure you don’t use comprise incorrectly. Also it makes me think of hugs, which is nice.

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