Complement and compliment are two words that, despite being just one letter off and sounding nearly the same, mean entirely different things.
It is very easy to mix these two up. What’s the difference?
Compliment can be a noun meaning a polite expression of praise or admiration. It can also be a verb meaning to congratulate or praise someone for something.
You can receive both a compliment and compliment someone.
“I wanted to compliment you on your beautiful new shoes Mary,” said Jan.
“Thanks for the compliment, I bought them in New York,” replied Mary.
Complement is also both a noun and a verb. In its role as a noun, complement is something that brings completes or brings something to perfection, just like the word “addition”. As a verb, complement mean to add, enhance or improve something much like the word supplement.
For example, “wasabi is a complement to many sushi dishes”.
To quickly remember the difference between these two words, think of the “E” in complement as standing for EXTRA and you will never forget that means to add to or enhance something.
Remember that if you are a nice customer (or know the owner) and receive a free dessert or glass of wine at a restaurant it is “complimentary” with an “I” even if it does complete a perfect night out on the town.
Have you ever mixed these two words up? What is your secret to remembering the difference?