I posted the following sentence in a blog and the majority of people could not understand it.

The exercise consist of making the buffer A dynamic so that the application is able to read and print an arbitrary long string.

I am wondering if the sentence structure is correct. In particular, I am not sure whether I am correctly using "consist of".

What I am trying to say is that to correctly solve the exercise, the use of a dynamic buffer is required.

  • Unfortunately, ELU is not a proofreading site. – Mitch Jan 2 '14 at 16:34
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    Fortunately, (as you can see by the answers posted so far), ELU is full of people that are not Mitch. On the other hand, check out the English Language Learners SE site: ell.stackexchange.com – Josh Jan 2 '14 at 20:19

There are two problems I can see: (1) the verb "consist" needs the singular form, "consists" (but "consists of" itself is fine); (2) "the buffer A dynamic" as a string is liable to misunderstanding (make "the buffer" a dynamic ... what?). Some small tweaks might help:

The exercise consists of making "buffer A" dynamic, so that the application is able to read and print an arbitrary long string.

The tweaks: (a) fix the verb; (b) make clear that "buffer A" is an entity; and (c) group the phrases by introducing a comma as an aid to understanding (might be otiose).

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    Further: "read and print a string of arbitrary length" or "read and print an arbitrarily long string". "aribtrary long string" can be a "long string which is arbitrary" or a "string which has an arbitrary length." – horatio Jan 2 '14 at 16:33
  • Actually, since this is a computer science exercise, the "buffer A" would more likely be written with the variable A in a computer-like script: buffer A. – aeismail Jan 3 '14 at 19:40

No, it is not correct.

What is correct, but is not yet related to your meaning.

  1. "The exercise consists of words and sentences"
  2. "The exercise has words and sentences as its part"

Or, that might be a bit closer to what you might want to say:

  1. "The exercise consists of requirements like that asking user to use dynamic buffer"
  2. "The exercise has a requirement which asks user to use dynamic buffer"

There are examples of consists of if search through the books:

Usually if you use "to consist of ", there is some noun in plural form (that represents pieces of one thing). Like this:

'The sample consists of 1,000 full-time workers'

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  • "consists of" = "be composed or made up of" (did you see the link to Oxford Dictionaries in my answer?), and fits OP's sentence. I don't know where you got "to has something as a part of", which isn't quite grammatical in any case. – Dɑvïd Jan 2 '14 at 20:32
  • Your are right. I had tried to provide my own definition that does not look so nice/correct after I looked at it again. So I updated it to a bit better, I guess, mentioning Oxford's one. – ses Jan 2 '14 at 21:44

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