I have just made my hundredth or so observation of incorrect use of this phrase in published form, meaning it was passed by copyeditors who should know better. Actually, any use of the phrase “comprised of” is incorrect. It is not English. It is not anything.
Various entities are “composed of” certain other entities: Coca-Cola is composed of flavoring, sugar, carbonated water and marketing, for example. You could also say these entities “comprise” those sub-entities of which they are composed: as in the French compris, comprehend, to include or take in, often used interchangeably with the term understand but also implying simple inclusion.
Nothing is ever, ever “comprised of” anything. Just try the synonym test for a better grasp on what I mean. Congress is comprehended of two bodies, the House and the Senate. See the problem?
I started seeing this repellent solecism sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, when I was a proofreader for government boilerplate. People with sub-fusc mentalities and slapdash educations — people whose English SATs were probably right up there with their bowling scores — thought it made them sound cleverer and more sophisticated if they could bounce around a phrase like “comprised of” when there were perfectly good phrases already available to them: composed of, made of, or including. And these pompous middle-management gasbags foisted this simply wrong turn of phrase on the whole American public, just by shoehorning it into every goddam document they could excrete.
Will you people stop it? Some of you should know better! Some of you actually write otherwise literate English and you’re still comprising things of other things as if the phrase meant something! Didn’t any of you study linguistics? Latin? French? Look up the fucking Indo-European roots in your handy dandy American Heritage Dictionary?
STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!