A near flub…

…appears in the February 23 edition of The Economist, in an article that addresses the split in Hamas’ leadership:

“Yet even the pragmatists, currently seeking a deal with Israel that would comprise a ceasefire, an exchange of prisoners and a formula for opening the border crossing to Egypt, shy from the kind of concessions–such as recognising Israel–that might convince the world to grant them legitimacy.”

I had to read this sentence several times when I first came upon it. The sentence is best understood by realizing that the word comprise is followed by a list of three things. There is no comma between the second and third things in the list (i.e., the Oxford comma is missing), an act I don’t approve of but will not condemn.

Hence, the subject of the sentence, pragmatists, is paired with the verb, shy.

Notice also the correct use of the word comprise. Individual parts compose a whole. A whole is composed of its parts. More eloquently, a whole comprises its parts. The Economist knows that the verb to comprise should be used in the active voice.

This post is sponsored by Hamas and the verbs to comprise and to shy.

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Filed under Grammar & language, The Economist

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