'Compliment' or 'Complement'? What Is the Difference? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 24 September 2022)

compliment vs complement

The Difference between Compliment and Complement

Compliment and complement are pronounced in the same way but have different meanings.

A compliment (/ˈkɒmplɪmənt/ or /ˈkɒmpləmənt/) is something nice that someone says about someone or something. Compliment (/ˈkɒmplɪment/ or /ˈkɒmpləment/) can also be used as a verb:

✅ She paid me compliments on my clothes.

✅ She complimented me on my clothes.

If people or things complement (/ˈkɒmplɪment/ or /ˈkɒmpləment/) each other, they have different qualities that go well together:

✅ Chris and Susan complement each other in all the important ways and make a perfect couple.

✅ The red wine complemented the meal perfectly.

Tips for Remembering the Difference between Compliment and Complement

The spelling difference can act as a helpful mnemonic device.

Examples from the Media

US presidential hopeful Donald Trump has said it is a 'great honour' to receive a compliment from Russian President Vladimir Putin. —BBC (2015)

When I complimented him on his command of the language, he said he was learning and practising, and never missed the chance to try out his English whenever a non-Chinese passenger climbed into his vehicle. —South China Morning Post (2015)

We both complement one another and whilst we have many different interests, that is part of the attraction as we can share our differences with one another and learn new things. The Sydney Morning Herald (2011)

Many apps, accessible right on your phone, offer innovative services that can help you address a wide range of health-care matters and complement existing medical services in the province where you live. —Toronto Star (2021)

Recommended Further Reading

'Complimentary' or 'Complementary'?

Related Posts

What Is the Difference between 'Compliment' and 'Complement'?

Real-World Examples of Misuse

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