Compose vs. Comprise vs. Constitute

Compose means to form by putting together. In other words, the sum is composed of its parts. Think about composing music, which is basically putting musical notes together.

Example: Canada is composed of 10 provinces and three territories.

Comprise means to be made up of, or to include. “Comprised of” is redundant; it is better to use “composed of” in such a sentence construction, as in the example above.

Example: Canada comprises 10 provinces and three territories.

Constitute means to be the elements of, to make up, or to form. Think of all the elements of government that make up a formal Constitution document. Constitute may work best when neither compose nor comprise seem to fit.

Example: Ten provinces and three territories constitute the country of Canada.

(Note that you spell out the number at the beginning of a sentence.)

 Fun Fact: The Canadian Constitution was finalized in 1982, when the British and Canadian parliaments passed parallel acts: the Canada Act 1982 in the UK, and the Constitution Act 1982 in Canada. Thereafter, the UK was formally absolved of any remaining responsibility for or jurisdiction over Canada. In a formal ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 17, 1982, England’s Queen Elizabeth II signed both acts into law.

One Response to “Compose vs. Comprise vs. Constitute”

  1. Alan Fisk Says:

    It was Canada’s Queen Elizabeth II who signed both acts into law.

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