Home « Forum « Author Hangout

Forum: Author Hangout

"comprised of" => "embraced of"

graybyrd
Updated:

'nuff said. It's pure stupid.

good: the squadron comprised a carrier, two cruisers, and a destroyer screen.

bad: the idiot's thought process was comprised of two porn books, a wealth fantasy, and a desire to vote Whig.

if in doubt, substitute "embraced" for "comprised" as a mental guide.

awnlee jawking

@graybyrd

the idiot's thought process was embraced of two porn books, a wealth fantasy, and a desire to vote Whig.

No, you need to explain more.

AJ

Switch Blayde

@graybyrd

Don't you mean "comprised of" and "embraced by"?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Don't you mean "comprised of" and "embraced by"?


Even if he did, embraced would still not make sense for a list of inanimate objects.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Even if he did, embraced would still not make sense for a list of inanimate objects.


That's because comprised and embraced mean different things.

sejintenej

@Dominions Son


Even if he did, embraced would still not make sense for a list of inanimate objects.

Not sure about that;
he embraced the Catholic faith and the concept of freedom of expression. - works for me
he comprised the Catholic faith and the concept of freedom of expression - ouch!
Yes, the words have totally different meanings

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@sejintenej


he comprised the Catholic faith and the concept of freedom of expression - ouch!


His beliefs were comprised of the Catholic faith and the concept of freedom of expression.

or

His beliefs comprised the Catholic faith and the concept of freedom of expression.

Crumbly Writer

"My beliefs are comprised of" vs. "I embrace the following beliefs". As everyone has noted, two completely different things, and you can't replace one with the other (i.e. your correction was invalid, while the original wasn't really off-based).

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

comprise |kəmˈprīz|
verb [ trans. ]
consist of; be made up of : the country comprises twenty states.
• make up; constitute : this single breed comprises 50 percent of the Swiss cattle population | ( be comprised of) documents are comprised of words.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from French, 'comprised,' feminine past participle of comprendre, from Old French comprehender (see comprehend ).
USAGE 1 According to traditional usage, comprise means 'consist of,' as in : the country comprises twenty states, and should not be used to mean 'constitute or make up (a whole),' as in : this single breed comprises 50 percent of the Swiss cattle population. But confusion has arisen because of uses in the passive, which have been formed by analogy with words like compose: when comprise is used in the active (as in : the country comprises twenty states) it is, oddly, more or less synonymous with the passive use of the second sense (as in : the country is comprised of twenty states). Such passive uses of comprise are common and are fast becoming part of standard English.

On the differences between comprise and include, see usage at include .


Another example of inaccurate, sloppy, careless use of a term becoming accepted as part of standard English. Which is fine, as it's no skin off anybody's ass... but it's going to sound weird when son-in-law reports that he went to college to find out law stuff.

It's probably best to avoid use of the word "comprise" or "comprised" as most folks don't have that word in their lexicon.

To grandly write "comprised of" is incorrect and sloppy. The suggestion to think of "embrace" is simply to remind oneself that a person's education might comprise (embrace, include) various disciplines ... but it's clumsy and sloppy to say "his education was comprised (embraced, included) of several disciplines."

Perhaps, a group "is comprised of" several whingers, nit-pickers, and contrarians.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@graybyrd

To grandly write "comprised of" is incorrect and sloppy.

The Oxford Dictionary says that is okay. It gives these examples:
* "The collection comprises 327 paintings."
* "The committee is comprised of representatives from..."
* "Older form comprise a large proportion..."

The uses it states are not valid are the "progressive tenses" and "...comprises of..."

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd
Updated:

@Ross at Play

Bugger Oxford

Passive English is a bureaucrat's foxhole.

"The committee is comprised of representatives from..." might be okay with Oxford, but it's crept in there because (refer to the dictionary example wherein it states: "such passive uses are common and are fast becoming part of standard English") we've crept into the use of Passive English as a standard, wherein such clinkers as "promulgate" replace "order"; "utilize" replace "use"; and "is comprised of" replaces "comprise."

Consider any recent official statement or press release from Microsoft Corporation as a prime example of mutilated, obfuscated, Orwellian Passive English, "NewSpeak" that says absolutely nothing.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@graybyrd


Bugger Oxford

Passive English is a bureaucrat's foxhole.


I may have agreed with you if your post was about the overuse of passive language, instead of the correct uses of a word which has its place in the language.

sejintenej

@graybyrd

Consider any recent official statement or press release from ************** as a prime example of mutilated, obfuscated, Orwellian Passive English, "NewSpeak" that says absolutely nothing.

Add government departments, most major companies, so self-proclaimed do-gooders and beggars for public funds and I agree they spend hours producing meaningless shit

Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

Passive English is a bureaucrat's foxhole.

I would agree with your review of the situation, as it pertains to the writing of literature, however, when applied to standardized English, the results are varied and not always applicable.

:D

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

It might be worthwhile to use passive English when you are being paid by the word, or a particular story or paper in school needs to be more than a certain number of words. And the more syllables in a word the better some authors feel. "antidisestablishmentarianism" Now, I feel much better.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@richardshagrin


It might be worthwhile to use passive English when


In business, passive is used all the time to not point a finger. For example, "The computer was brought down by a software error." (passive) vs. "Joe brought the computer down with a software error." (active)

In fiction it's used when you want to emphasize something. "Joe loaded the gun with hollow point bullets" is active. "The gun was loaded by Joe with hollow point bullets" is passive, but the reader's attention is on the gun, not Joe.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Argon
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

"Joe loaded the gun with hollow point bullets" is active. "The gun was loaded by Joe with hollow point bullets" is passive, but the reader's attention is on the gun, not Joe.

Or: "Joe loaded his gun, using hollow-point bullets."

The emphasis is then on the type of bullet, rather than on either Joe or his gun. (The subject is Joe, but readers tend to remember the emphasis of the sentence, rather than the chronological order.)

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Or: "Joe loaded his gun, using hollow-point bullets."


That's still active. My example showed when passive voice in fiction is okay.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

My example showed when passive voice in fiction is okay.

As a general rule, action (active voice) moves the story along faster. During action scenes, keep the sentences shorter and more direct. During slower, reflective periods, don't shy away from longer, more detailed sentences. Readers expect the change in language, so they aren't caught off guard.

Generally, though, there's not much call to using passive language. Passive is generally used to ensure you don't say the wrong thing (i.e. the author is afraid of saying the wrong thing), so they 'qualify' the sentence with unnecessary language. Short 'active' sentences are clearer, with less chance of missing the meaning.

In short, only use passive sentences if it advances the story (adding distinctive qualifications to explain something, rather than merely showing hesitation by the author).

That probably doesn't help, as those who use passive language generally aren't aware of it, but it helps understand how it's applied.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

My example showed when passive voice in fiction is okay.


Isn't passive voice in fiction what you call the dialogue where the person quietly says, "Yes, Master."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Isn't passive voice in fiction what you call the dialogue where the person quietly says, "Yes, Master."

Rather, it's when they say: "If you please, Master?", or even better, "If you might concur, Master, I request a more specific command, so that I may properly fulfill my expectations from you."

Now THAT is passive speech! :D

Replies:   sejintenej
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Generally, though, there's not much call to using passive language.


That's the misconception I was referring to. When they say to use active voice rather than passive, they mean generally, not always (like there's a place for telling even though the guiding principle is "show don't tell").

I once read a good article on when to use passive voice, but can't find it. But I found these three reasons in another article:

1. When you don't know who did the action.

If you don't know who did the action, it's difficult to use the active voice.

2. When the person who did the action isn't important

If it's not helpful for your readers to know who performed the action, use the passive voice and don't mention them.

3. When you want your readers to focus on the object of the action

If the main point of the sentence is the noun that receives the action, use the passive voice to foreground it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

1. When you don't know who did the action.

2. When the person who did the action isn't important

As I said, passive voice is useful for expressing uncertainty, though often, with newbie authors, it comes across as author uncertainty. My first books were filled with it, and I now consider most of it improperly used. That's the main reason why I caution it's use. As I explained, there are plenty of reasons to utilize it, but authors need to watch then they unintentionally use it, before they'll ever learn when to use it by design.

You need to figure out how to not swallow water before learning to swim.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

As I explained, there are plenty of reasons to utilize it, but authors need to watch then they unintentionally use it, before they'll ever learn when to use it by design.


True words.

You need to figure out how to not swallow water before learning to swim.


If you learn to swim, you don't need to learn how to swallow water. :P

sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

"If you might concur, Master, I request a more specific command, so that I may properly fulfill my expectations from you."

There are times in England when it is right to use a similar format to that - in real life! Indeed failure to do so could have unwished for consequences, the sack being the least of those.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

There are times in England when it is right to use a similar format to that - in real life! Indeed failure to do so could have unwished for consequences, the sack being the least of those.

And as everyone knows, sacking the boss is the key to success in business (at least in the SOL universe). :)

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

And as everyone knows, sacking the boss is the key to success in business (at least in the SOL universe). :)


I thought it was sucking up to the boss for men, sucking is for the female sex, assuming the boss is male. Sucking/sacking, only one vowel difference.

Argon

@Switch Blayde

In business, passive is used all the time to not point a finger. For example, "The computer was brought down by a software error." (passive) vs. "Joe brought the computer down with a software error." (active)

Or more correctly, "The operating system brought the computer down" if we are still with the software company as example. That would however point fingers at their product and be a no-no by corporate speak standards.

Replies:   graybyrd  REP
graybyrd
Updated:

@Argon

The nation is in an uproar, triggered by one of history's all-time classic examples of passive obfuscation, innuendo, and double-talk.


In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.

Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.


Note the terms "appear to be pertinent"; "determine whether they contain"; "cannot yet assess"; "I cannot predict how long;" etc etc.

Smoke, mirrors, and condemnation by innuendo.

In a few weeks "media sources" will report that investigators continue to probe... but substantive discoveries have yet to be announced.

As an exercise, let's put this in a more relevant context, for instance, a letter to your employer (with a copy to local police authorities):

[Concerning your employee John Doe:]

"In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of [files] that appear to be pertinent to [our] investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these [files] to determine whether they contain [illicit underage content], as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.

Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your [firm] about our efforts in light of [our] previous [investigations].


How long do you think you'd retain your job after this letter from the FBI hits your employer's desk? And how soon will the Police be knocking on your door to seize your computers? Yet... is there any evidence of culpability in this statement, other than suspicion and innuendo?

Think about it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

How long do you think you'd retain your job after this letter from the FBI hits your employer's desk? And how soon will the Police be knocking on your door to seize your computers? Yet... is there any evidence of culpability in this statement, other than suspicion and innuendo?

Let's not confuse passive speech, which has many positive uses in fiction, with clearly false innuendo or doublespeak, which does not (unless you're painting a portrait of an out-of-control prosecutor).

I know we all like to rant politically, but remember, this is a literary forum (even if we're ranting about sex fantasies) so it's important to focus on fictional uses.

Replies:   samuelmichaels
REP

@Argon

That would however point fingers at their product


I don't recall the example reference and it didn't jump out at me with a quick scan, but that would only be true if the software company's product is the operating system that brought the computer down.

samuelmichaels

@Crumbly Writer

Let's not confuse passive speech, which has many positive uses in fiction, with clearly false innuendo or doublespeak, which does not (unless you're painting a portrait of an out-of-control prosecutor).

I couldn't agree more. I have read several stories that overuse passive voice, yet still had an active and engaging protagonist and a fast-paced plot. For the most part, content trumps style.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@samuelmichaels

For the most part, content trumps style.


You aren't supposed to say Trump because this is a literary forum. Lets play bridge. I bid one no-Trump.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

You aren't supposed to say Trump because this is a literary forum. Lets play bridge. I bid one no-Trump.

Content doesn't trump style, but Sanders Bernies Trump in all of my Bridge-Gate games!

Now, what was that we were saying about literary forums?

Back to Top