The Oft-Forgot Second Comma

Find the error in this sentence:

"On July 4, 1776 a printed copy of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Continental Congress."

Answer: The rules of English grammar dictate that you use a comma after both the day and the year, and the second comma is not optional.

Now this sentence:

"He grew up in Phoeniz, Arizona and still lives there."

Answer: The rules of English grammar dictate that you use a comma after both the city name and state name, and again the second comma is not optional.

These rules are so often abused that when I see someone who correctly uses the second comma, I figure that person probably knows English grammar pretty well.  Either that, or s/he is just comma happy.

Comprised v. Is Comprised Of

I’ve always run into those blow-hard [tag]editors, copyeditors and proofreaders[/tag] who insisted that comprise be used in the active sense, meaning "to include."

Hence, one could write, "The program comprises dieting, exercise, and yoga." One could not write this in the passive voice, "The program is comprised of dieting, exercise, and yoga," which is the way I always used the verb.

 Now,"blow-hard central" had a point in the sense that I never recognized comprise as a transitive verb that took objects, but I’m not sure they were right about not using "is comprised of."

Now to the rescue comes Common Errors in English, which has a solution–use "is composed of" instead, but that doesn’t quite, to me at least, convey the same meaning as "is comprised of."

Whatever, the blow-hards are always right.  Blow-hards rule just about everywhere, don’t they?  But they’re not always right!