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One word or two? Compose or comprise?

Since 1977, all entries in The AP Stylebook are in alphabetical order. It's a feature I've always found very helpful and timesaving--a quick reference in the best sense of the term ... For example, is it awhile or a while?

"awhile, a while He plans to stay awhile. He plans to stay for a while.

"The first use is an adverb, the second a noun."

And is it everyday or every day

"every day (adv.) everyday (adj) She goes to work every day. He wears everyday shoes."

"every one, everyone Two words when it means each individual item: Every one of the clues was worthless.

"One word when used as a pronoun meaning all persons: Everyone wants his life to be happy. (Note that everyone takes singular verbs and pronouns.)"

"anybody, any body, any one, any one One word for an indefinite reference: Anyone can do that.

"Two words when the emphasis is on singling out one element of a group: Any one of them can speak up."

Compose, comprise

The AP Stylebook also has probably the most succinct and understandable explanation of the troublesome comprise. The whole comprises the parts; I've known that since high school--and also that it should not be used in the passive voice, as in The United States is comprised of 50 states. When editing such sentences, I'd automatically change it to is composed of or comprises.

Here's the Stylebook entry:

"compose, comprise, constitute Compose means to create or put together. It commonly is used in both active and passive voices: She composed a song The United States is composed of 50 states. The zoo is composed of many animals. "Comprise means to contain, to include all or embrace. It is best used only in the active voice, followed by a direct object: The United States comprises 50 states. The jury comprises five men and seven women. The zoo comprises many animals.

"Constitute, in the sense of form or make up, may be the best word if neither compose nor comprise seems to fit: Fifty states constitute the United States. Five men and seven women constitute the jury. A collection of animals can constitute a zoo.

"Use include when what follows is only part of the total: The price includes breakfast. The zoo includes lions and tigers."
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Title Annotation:Editing
Author:Swift, Paul
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Aug 16, 2003
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