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Confused? Eat pizza!

A lesson on four confusing verbs

by | Aug 6, 2019 | Vocabulary, Writing

comprise, constitute, compose and consist are among the words many IELTS candidates use in their responses to IELTS Academic task 1. Unfortunately, these words are often used incorrectly and not just by IELTS candidates alone, but even by native English speakers as well. This week, we are delivering a pizza lesson to help you make correct sentences using these words.

First, here’s a little quiz

Look at the pie chart and decide which alternative is correct: 1 or 2?

A: Which one of these sentences is correct?

  1. Paper consists of 62 percent of the total recycled materials.
  2. Paper comprises 62 percent of the total recycled materials.

B: How about these two sentences? Is 1 correct or 2?

  1. Recycled materials constitute 24 percent glass.
  2. Recycled materials consist of 24 percent glass.

C: Finally, which structure is acceptable?

  1. Recycled materials are consisted by 7 percent Aluminum.
  2. Recycled materials consist of 7 percent Aluminum.

Size matters!

When using these words, pay attention to the size. You must decide whether you want to start your sentence with the whole or with parts of the whole. In other words, do you like to start your sentence with a slice of pizza or begin it with the complete pizza.

From slices to the whole

Use these words when you want the small parts come first in your sentence:

  •  Eight slices compose a pizza.
  •  Eight slices constitute a pizza.
  •  Eight slices make up a pizza.

From the whole to slices

Use these words when you want the large parts come first in your sentence:

  • A pizza comprises eight slices.
  • A pizza consists of eight slices.

In passive voice:

  • A pizza is made up of eight slices.
  • A pizza is composed of eight slices. (NOT A pizza is composed by/with eight slices.)

Answer key

A: 2

B: 2

C: 2

About the Author

About the Author

CEO and Co-founder of Juice Academy

Mehdi Safavi is a Cambridge certified English teacher (CELTA Grade A), IDP-trained IELTS expert, Sussex Downs College TESOL with 17+ years of teaching & teacher training experience. More about him →

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