You say potato I say potahto

Myriad and comprise

I remember a professor in graduate school saying he would take our grade down an entire letter if we ever used “a myriad of” or “comprised of” in a paper. This was graduate school in journalism so we believed him. Now, when I begin editing a dissertation for a proposal one of the first things I do is a search for these two phrases.

It turns out that using these two phrases incorrectly is also something that readers, chairs, and committees notice.  Along with the incorrect use of affect/effect, except/accept, utilize/use, site/cite…the list goes on. Mentalfloss.com and Grammar girl also weigh in on these and other typical but incorrect word usage.

In 20 word mistakes even smart people make, a MentalFloss.com article, writer Alvin Ward starts by noting the difference between comprise and compose.

A whole comprises its parts. The alphabet comprises 26 letters. The U.S. comprises 50 states. But people tend to say is comprised of when they mean comprise. If your instinct is to use the is … of version, then substitute composed. The whole is composed of its parts.

Grammarist.com weighs in by saying: Comprise means to consist of or to be composed of. Compose means to make up the constituent parts of. Parts compose the whole, and the whole comprises the parts. For example, we could say that the United States comprises 50 states and that the 50 states compose the United States.

I like these quotes from She said what? Quotable women talk leadership.

Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together.
Anais Nin (1902-1977)
French author, diarist

Forever is composed of nows.
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
American poet

But what I can’t believe is that a google search for comprises vs “is comprised of” yields 1,980,000 results in .56 seconds. It’s nuts that almost two million people care about this enough to google it. (And don’t get me started about using “google” as a verb.)

EFFECT/AFFECT

Vocabulary.com and a lot of others use the RAVEN image to show affect vs effect.

Choosing between affect and effect can be scary. Think of Edgar Allen Poe and his RAVEN: Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun. You can’t affect the creepy poem by reading it, but you can enjoy the effect of a talking bird.

EXCEPT/ACCEPT

Wordpandit.com has a perfect mnemonic for except/accept.

DISCREET/DISCRETE

Discreet means private. Discrete means separate. This vocabwords1 blog shows both discreet and discretion.

I.E./E.G.

I was always told the mnemonic e.g. = egg zample. And usually if it’s in parentheses in a sentence it’s e.g. I like this cartoon from LSNED.com. By the way, their site has one of the best disclaimer’s I’ve seen.

Disclaimer: The facts on LSNED.com are not thoroughly researched, and the author of this site offers no guarantee of factual validity. If you take action based on the what you read on this website, and bad things happen, the author is in no way responsible for any harm or losses. If, however, you become wealthy due to reading this website, the author is 20% responsible.

Cite vs site vs sight

Editingaddict.com uses this blackboard graphic to tell the difference between cite, site, and sight.

 

 Dr. Kat (aka Dr. Kathleen Cannon)
Fun, fast, reasonably priced dissertation editing, coaching, and therapy. Contact drkatcannon@gmail.com

©2017 Dr. Kathleen Cannon

 

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