Compliment & Complement: There’s a Difference

I see a lot of people confusing complement and compliment. I even saw a snotty individual who thought their fecal matter smelled like a fine floral arrangement get haughty on someone who used the word complement (correctly, mind you). The person was quick to point out the ‘mistake’ and promptly informed the other person that it should be compliment, not complement. I laughed and laughed, and then I cried a little because damn it to hell, it’s sad that people don’t know their words. So I thought I’d try to help.


a polite expression of praise or admiration.


He gave me a compliment, making me blush.

My compliments to the chef.


1) a thing that completes or brings to perfection, or 2) a number or quantity of something required to make a group complete.


This wine really complements the fish.

The store currently has a full complement of staff.

It isn’t hard to distinguish between the two words and know when each should be used once you know that there actually is a difference. And now you know. So go forth, my friends. Go forth and spread the knowledge! Then I’ll compliment you on your job well done.


About Kimberly A Bettes

I whittle away the minutes of my life by entertaining myself with various projects and people. One thing is certain. I'm never bored. I also write stuff and take pictures of things.

Posted on January 11, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. So if I say you complement us readers by your writings then that’s a compliment? Hell, till now I didn’t even know there was two ways to spell it, let alone how to use it.

  2. That’s exactly right, Dan. And I love the compliment! Most people don’t know they are two different words. For a long time, I didn’t either.

  3. There’s certainly a lot to learn about this subject.

    I really like all of the points you’ve made.

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