Introducing the first in a new series of mini blog posts about common writing mistakes.
The difference between compliment vs. complement is one that catches a lot of people out. I often see them used incorrectly, as in “complimentary therapies”, “complementary tickets” or even “with complements”.
So here’s a quick reminder in case it sometimes causes you confusion too…
Compliment vs. complement
COMPLIMENT (n) = polite expression of praise, commendation or admiration, e.g. you pay someone a compliment
COMPLIMENT (v) = to admire or praise someone for something, e.g. you compliment someone on a job well done
COMPLIMENTARY (adj) = expressing a compliment; given or supplied free of charge
COMPLEMENT (n) = something that contributes extra features to something else so as to enhance or improve it, e.g. a fine wine is the perfect complement to a good meal
COMPLEMENT (v) = to add to in a way that enhances or improves, e.g. wine complements cheese
COMPLEMENTARY (adj) = combining in such a way as to form a complete whole or enhance each other, e.g. we have different but complementary skills
Therefore, the correct form that should have been used on this leaflet from my local corner shop is “complement”.
A good way to remember which one to use is that complement helps makes something more ‘complete’, both of which are spelt with an |e| (plus they share the same first six letters).
Or you could remember that compliment has an |i| because you might tell someone they have nice eyes!
Hopefully this short post has helped you understand the difference between compliment vs. complement, and to learn which one to use when.
Any other common writing mistakes you’d like me to cover in future? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to oblige.
(FREE image courtesy of Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net)