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Include vs. Comprise: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 6, 2023
"Include" means to contain as part of a whole; "comprise" means to consist of or be made up of the whole.

Key Differences

"Include" suggests that the item is part of a larger whole, but there may be other components not mentioned. "Comprise," however, implies that all components of the whole are listed and nothing is excluded.
When using "include," the focus is on the part within the whole, hinting at selected examples. "Comprise" indicates the whole is constituted by the parts, often used to express the complete composition.
"Include" is a verb that invites additional items beyond those listed. On the contrary, "comprise" is used when the speaker is accounting for all the elements explicitly.
Inclusion can be partial, whereas to comprise is to give a full account. If something is included, there can be more to add; if it comprises, the list is comprehensive.
Using "include" often introduces examples, while "comprise" is a statement of completeness. "The meal includes dessert" differs from "The meal comprises three courses."

Comparison Chart


Part of the whole, possibly among others.
The whole is made up of the parts listed.

Usage in a Sentence

Often followed by examples.
Lists all elements constituting the whole.


Inclusive, but not necessarily exhaustive.
Exhaustive and complete.

Position in Sentence

Typically takes a direct object.
May take a direct object or be used with "of."

Grammatical Structure

"Include" followed by listed items.
"Comprised of" or "comprises" the items.

Include and Comprise Definitions


To contain as a part of something.
The course includes a final exam.


To form; to make up.
The book comprises ten chapters.


To consider as part of a group.
The study includes children aged 5 to 10.


To constitute the whole of something.
The trilogy comprises three novels set in different eras.


To make someone or something a part of something.
They decided to include their new neighbors in the party.


To be composed of.
The dessert comprised layers of cake and cream.


To add as a part of something else.
The anthology includes her latest short story.


To consist of; to be made up of.
The committee is comprised of experts from various fields.


To mention as part of a list.
The agenda includes a discussion on sustainability.


To include all; to encompass.
The United States comprises fifty states.


To contain or take in as a part, element, or member.


To be composed of or contain
The staff comprises eight physicians, two dozen nurses, and various administrative people.


To consider as part of or allow into a group or class
Thanked the host for including us.


Usage Problem To compose; make up; constitute
The countries and territories that comprised the British Empire.


Is it correct to say "is comprised of"?

Yes, though some grammarians prefer "comprises" alone.

Can "include" and "comprise" be used interchangeably?

No, "include" suggests parts of a whole, while "comprise" means the whole is made up of the parts.

Can "include" imply that there are more items not listed?

Yes, "include" often suggests there are additional items.

Should "comprise" be used in passive voice?

It's commonly used in passive voice as "is comprised of," though it's stylistically better in active voice.

Is "comprise" more formal than "include"?

"Comprise" can be seen as more formal and is often used in technical or academic contexts.

Can "include" refer to abstract concepts?

Yes, abstract concepts can be included.

Does "include" need a complete list?

No, "include" can present a partial list.

Can both "include" and "comprise" be used in legal documents?

Yes, both can be used, but "comprise" is more common for its precision.

Can "include" be used when all items are listed?

Yes, but it doesn't imply the list is exhaustive.

Can "comprise" introduce a list of examples?

No, "comprise" implies a complete list, not examples.

Can "include" suggest selectivity?

Yes, it often suggests a choice of parts to mention.

Is it correct to use "comprised of"?

It's commonly used but considered redundant by some.

Can "comprise" mean the same as "compose"?

Yes, but "comprise" often suggests a more formal composition.

Is "comprise" only used for physical components?

No, it can also refer to abstract components.

Can "include" function as a command?

Yes, for instance, "Please include your address."

Do "include" and "comprise" have the same tense forms?

Yes, both verbs have similar tense forms like "included" and "comprised."

Does "comprise" allow for omitted elements?

No, it implies all elements are accounted for.

Can "include" be used to imply importance?

It can, especially when highlighting specific inclusions.

Can "include" be used to welcome someone?

Yes, as in "You're included in our group."

Is "comprise" ever used informally?

It's less common but can be used informally.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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