While being interrogated by the policemen, John stated that his dorm room comprised of a chair, a sofa and a bed, while fourteen bedrooms and three study halls composed the hostel.

Compose and comprise are two words that are often confused with each other and many people use them interchangeably without knowing their differences. They are both verbs and have a similar meaning and the terms are used to describe the constituents of a larger thing. It is important to note that even though their meanings are quite similar, their usages differ and if you don’t understand how to use them in sentences you might end up making an error. Compose as a verb means to ‘constitute’, ‘add up to’ or ‘make up.’ While comprise means to ‘consist of’ or ‘be made up of.’

When we say ‘comprise of’ we refer to all the various parts that are contained within a larger object. For instance, we could say, ‘the abandoned hospital comprises of six rooms.’ Compose is used when the main object is referred to after the sum of its parts, for instance, one could say, ‘Five provinces compose our country.’ If you want to learn the differences quickly follow the article to the end.

Compose vs comprise – definition, uses and example sentences

Definition of comprise

Comprise is pronounced in the following manner: ‘kuhm–praiz.’ It is a verb which means ‘to contain.’ When we speak of the word comprise, we refer to all of the parts that form something. In order to incorporate comprise in a sentence, we need to make sure that the main object comes first and the sum of its parts come later in the sentence. Comprise is derived from the Old French word ‘compris’ which is a past participle of the Latin word ‘comprendre’ which means ‘to contain, to keep together or to unite.’

Example sentences of comprise

  • My book on philosophy comprises of an introduction to Sartre, seventeen chapters on existentialism and five anecdotes on the meaning of life.

The above sentence states that the book on philosophy contains various chapters discussing different topics.

  • The ores of this gigantic mountain comprise of Zinc, Sulphur, Calcium, Cobalt, Silicates, Copper and Gold.

Here, the sentence means that the ores present in the enormous mountain contain multiple elements like Zinc, Sulphur, Copper etc.

  • Our country’s imports comprise of mineral fuels, oil, machinery, iron, steel, electrical equipment, organic products, plastics, fertilizers, rubber, and pharmaceutical products etc.

This sentence lists the imports of the country which include various products like machinery, iron, steel etc.

Definition of compose

Compose is pronounced as ‘kuhm-powz.’ It is a verb which means to ‘create’ or ‘to put something together.’ Its alternative and more confusing meaning is ‘to make up.’ When we speak of compose, we need to make sure that we mention the parts first and then the whole object. Compose is derived from the root word ‘compousen’ which means ‘to pen-down’ (most commonly used for a book.) According to another opinion, it may have roots in the old French word ‘composer.’ Here, it is a combination of two words where ‘com’ means ‘with, together’ and ‘poser’ means ‘to place.’ And the root as a whole means ‘compound.’

Example sentences of compose

  • A mixture of ginger, cardamom, red chilies, green chilies, turmeric, yoghurt, tomatoes and capsicum compose a delectable ginger chicken sauce.

In this particular sentence a recipe is given for a sauce which is made from a combination of multiple ingredients. When mixed together, they make up the ginger chicken sauce.

  • An online quiz, MCQs paper, and a subjective paper compose the final exam during the pandemic.

The sentence states that three different components make up a paper which is given to students as their final exam during the corona pandemic.

  • Hera, Daisy, Mia and Natasha compose the choir that is going to perform at the closing ceremony of the ‘National Tennis Championships.’

The sentences mentions that the four girls form a choir to perform at the closing ceremony of the respective tennis championships.


In conclusion, it might often be difficult to differentiate between the terms because there is a clear overlap between their meanings. If you want to avoid using them in the wrong context remember the following trick:

When using ‘comprise’ we mention the main object first. For example, ‘The apple pie comprises six slices.’ However, when we use ‘compose,’ we mention the parts first and then the main object; for example, ‘six slices compose the apple pie.’