'Complimentary' or 'Complementary'?

(Last Updated: 1 April 2022)

                                          
Complimentary means 'flattering' or 'favourable', as in complimentary remarks and complimentary reviews. It also means 'free of charge', as in complimentary tickets and a complimentary bottle of champagne.

Complementary is used to describe two different things that go well together, as in complementary skills and complementary strengths.

Tips for remembering the difference

The spelling difference can act as a helpful mnemonic device.

Examples from the media

The president was forced to clarify that he does believe Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and the administration has imposed sanctions on Russia, but Mr. Trump has at times still offered complimentary remarks about Putin and defended their meeting. —CBS News 

Passengers in Club Europe, and in all classes on long-haul services, are served with complimentary food and drink. —The Independent

China's movie moguls see online video apps as complementary to cinemas. —South China Morning Post

Nearly a quarter of GPs said in a survey that they had used some form of complementary or alternative therapy. —The New Zealand Herald

Recommended further reading

'Compliment' or 'Complement'?

Real-world examples of misuse

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