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How do we use contain, consist of, compose, comprise correctly? ครับพี่แอนดรูว์สุดหล่อ

Question

When I am trying to use these kind of words for writing an scientific essay, sometimes I'm a bit confused how to choose which one of them to put on the sentence. Could you explain about the meaning or may be the feeling of these words and how to use them in any particular cases. 

Moreover, is it OK if I use "consisting of" or "composing" or "comprising" .

Thank you very much ครับ P' Andrew สุดหล่อที่สุด...

 

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Generally, "contain" is a verb which we use to describe components within, or inside something. It requires no preposition:

This tank contains petrol. The machine contains 65 moving parts.

"Consist" describes the parts that make up a whole thing. It is not the same as "contain". Now we are not talking about the things INSIDE the main thing. We are now talking about all the things which come together to form the thing. It requires the preposition "of"

The courses consists of 10 progressive lessons. (10 progressive lessons = 1 course)

The English alphabet consists of 21 consonants and 5 vowels.

"Comprise" means "include" and often can be interchanged with "consist of". The big, big difference is you don't use a preposition:

The course comprises 10 progressive lessons.

The English alphabet comprises 21 consonants and 4 vowels.

We often use this verb in its passive voice form, but you must understand that pure grammarians don't really like this form. And yet it is very popularly used:

The course is comprised of 10 progressive lessons.

The English alphabet is comprised of 21 consonants and 4 vowels.

"Compose" is very, very similar to "comprise". We almost always use it in the passive voice form:

The course is composed of 10 progressive lessons.

The English alphabet is composed of 21 consonants and 4 vowels.

Finally, yes, you can substitute "comprising" and "consisting of", but "containing" tends to talk about the things inside a bigger thing.

Hope that helps!

Andrew 

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