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A Usage Note

So I was reading a news release from a reputable NYSE-listed corporation the other day, and I came across the phrase “was comprised of.” This, much like the use of “reference” as a verb, causes me no end of consternation. (“Comprise” means “to consist of” or “be composed of”; “was comprised of” is therefore redundant.)

Corporate communication is rife with bad writing, due in large part to simple ignorance—not to mention marketing types’ insatiable need to speak in jargon—which, in turn, leads to the unnecessary manipulation of the English language.

I’m all for celebrating the glorious mosaic of our diverse, dynamic, and living language, but c’mon. Change is only good when it’s needed. And you don’t need “of” when you write “comprised.”



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