I have always used the term the first way, as in "comprised of five ingredients," but someone I work with regularly uses it as in "comprises five ingredients."

Are both usages correct? If no, which is incorrect? The second usage is something I find very difficult to wrap my head around. Thank you~!

  • The second is correct. The first, however, is very very common.
    – Jim Mack
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 2:51

1 Answer 1


The first is in the past tense, the second in the present. They are both equally 'correct', but only semantically correct in the correct tense.

I would suggest that the past version be used to give a sense that the thing being made with the ingredients is no longer made, or is now impossible to make (i.e. a recipe that was made in the past perhaps). The second might be more appropriate for existing usage of the ingredients in question.

  • So what about the statement, "It is comprised of 5 ingredients?"
    – Jim
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 6:16
  • @Jim In that case you are using comprised as an adjective (is that right? Since it describes 'it') therefore it is also correct since tense doesn't matter for adjectives. The phrases that the OP uses however take the verb: to comprise; and hence have to be in the correct tense. Apparently, Wikipedia already has some information regarding this, apparently I'm right (yay) comprised is either the past participle of comprise, or indeed an adjective on its own. Look in the syntax section of this page en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comprised_of
    – Sam Walls
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 1:10

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