What’s in a compliment?

Compliment or complement?

They sound the same and look similar, but their meanings are different, so how do you know which one to use?

A compliment is an expression of praise. When you compliment someone, you praise them. When you are being complimentary about something, you are praising it. Complimentary can also mean a gift given free of charge, such as complimentary theatre tickets.

A complement is something which completes or balances something else, e.g. a full complement of crew for a ship. When one thing complements another, it completes or balances it, e.g. a salt cellar complements a pepper pot. Two things which are complementary balance each other or complete a set.

The difference between the e and the i is an important one.

Robert Zarywacz

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