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Which one of the following two sentences is correct?

  1. We are only concerned with crystal systems which consist of an inversion center.
  2. We are only concerned with crystal systems which consist an inversion center.

I really can't tell the difference. If they are both grammatically correct, which usage is more formal? (I hope I am not being too vague).

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The verb consist is never used without a preposition and it usually takes either of or in. In your example, it should be consist of. Thus, the first sentence is correct while the second is wrong. From the Oxford Dictionaries:

1 (consist of) be composed or made up of

  • (consist in) have as an essential feature

2 (consist with) archaic be consistent with

I should also add that it is probably not uncommon for some speakers to drop the of in conversation, but this should by all means be avoided in written contexts.

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@Jimi-- What do you think of kiamlaluno's suggestion of using "consisting of" ? I am not trying to start a rivalry here by asking your comments on other answers. I would like to understand the reasoning behind it and hope to learn from these discussions. –  Srikanth Mar 10 '11 at 14:33
    
@Srikanth: It's a good suggestion, and just another to rephrase your sentence. Personally, I would prefer which consist of in this case. Consisting of sounds awkward sometimes. I think I use it much, much less often than consists of. To make it better, I might say: "...crystal systems consisting of inversion centers". Seems consisting of goes better with plural components! –  Jimi Oke Mar 10 '11 at 14:49
    
@Srikanth: On a completely different angle, you just might want to do away with consists of and use something else because consists usually deals with multiple components. Here, you only have an inversion center. Thus, you might say: "...systems which/that have an inversion center", "...systems with an inversion center", etc. –  Jimi Oke Mar 10 '11 at 14:56
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Consist of means "be composed or made up of". The NOAD reports three different meanings of consist, but the verb is always used with a preposition: consist of, consist in, consist with.

The exhibition consists of 180 drawings.
His duties consist in taking the condition of the barometer.
The information perfectly consists with our friend's account.

If I understood what you mean, I would write the sentence as:

We are only concerned with crystal systems consisting of an inversion center.

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Thank you for your help. I have a feeling you are right. All I can say is that it sounds better to use "consisting of". What made you suggest using "consisting of" instead of "consist of" ? –  Srikanth Mar 10 '11 at 14:28
    
@Srikanth: Participial phrases function as adjectives. Take as example "she was annoyed by the crumpled newspapers lying on the kitchen floor"; "lying on the kitchen floor" describes newspapers. –  kiamlaluno Mar 10 '11 at 14:37
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protected by RegDwigнt Dec 17 '13 at 9:55

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