I found a confusing usage of "consist of" in Belles Make Up site:

  • Water consists of 70% of our whole body.

I think that above sentence is wrong because water is within our body, not the body in water; therefore, it should have been like this:

Additionally, how and when to use "made up of"?

  • What did you find when you looked up consist (and perhaps comprise) in a dictionary?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 6:34
  • I found its usage same in Cambridge Dictionary, like my latter example.
    – Ahmed
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 6:42
  • Great. Please add your research to the question (best to look in more than one), along with why you believe the website might be believed to be valid. Is it generally well-written? So far, you have answered your own question with your research: tell us why it's not conclusive.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 7:04
  • I would’ve said the first sentence should be “Our body consists of 70% of water.”
    – user305707
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 7:50
  • To Andrew Leach and Nathan M: thanks for the explanations.
    – Ahmed
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 7:54

1 Answer 1


Your suspicion is correct. I've checked the following dictionaries:
American Heritage Dictionary
Oxford Living Dictionaries
Collins Dictionary
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Random House Unabridged
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary

And not one of them attests to your first quotation example being correct, but instead your second one as being correct.

Generally the definition is something like:

  1. To be made up or composed: New York City consists of five boroughs.
    American Heritage Dictionary

However, note that inversions of this kind tend to naturally drift among people and time periods. For example this is the usage note from American Heritage Dictionary for the word "comprise":

Usage Note: The traditional rule states that the whole comprises the parts and the parts compose the whole. In strict usage: The Union comprises 50 states. Fifty states compose (or make up) the Union. Even though many writers maintain this distinction, comprise is often used in place of compose, especially in the passive: The Union is comprised of 50 states. Our surveys show that opposition to this usage has abated but has not disappeared. In the 1960s, 53 percent of the Usage Panel found this usage unacceptable; by 1996, the proportion objecting had declined to 35 percent; and by 2011, it had fallen a bit more, to 32 percent.
Free Dictionary

This note is a good example of how the acceptability of word usage changes over time, and I'm not sure if "consist" is undergoing the same sort of drift.

Another and even more contentious example is "substitute" where strictly speaking the "substitute" is the replacement supposed to take the place of the thing removed, however it's extremely common for it to be used the other way around. The dictionary usage panel generally disapproves of the 'incorrect' use. However the panel is more accepting of its use in a sports context, where it's very common for one player to be substituted by another. The thing is that language naturally evolves whether we like it or not.

If you're interested in the "substitute" controversy, here is the link to the usage note.

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