English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

The difference between “compliment” and “complement”

The difference between“Flattery“y“Complement“

“Flattery“y“complement“they are easy to confuse because both meanings relate to the expression of positivity and sound very similar (ie they are almost homonyms).

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  • “To compliment“means to give praise. For example:
    • I would like to compliment you on your new haircut. ✔️
  • “A compliment“is an expression of praise. For example:
    • She gave me a nice compliment about my painting style. ✔️
  • Complement

  • “To complement“means to enhance. For example:
    • Your new haircut will complement your eyes. ✔️
  • “A complement“is an enhancement. For example:
    • My mother only uses mustard as a complement for mashed potato. ✔️
  • More about“Compliment“

    As a noun, a“compliment“it is an expression of praise. Particularly when used with“mi“, often seen in the plural form“compliments“. For example:

    • Please give my compliments to the chef for such a wonderful meal.
    • When I said your eyes looked misty, I meant that as a compliment.
    • Tell the cook of this restaurant with my compliments that these are the very worst sandwiches in the whole world, and that, when I ask for a watercress sandwich, I do not mean a loaf with a field in the middle of it. (Playwright Oscar Wilde)
      (“Compliments“means good wishes, regards, or respect.)

    More about“Complement“

    Un“complement“it is an improvement. A“complement“enhances or goes well with something else. For example:

    • Cranberry sauce is a complement for turkey. ✔️
    • The cashew nuts were an excellent complement for the soup. ✔️
      (The cashew nuts went well with the soup.)
    • The drums were a perfect complement to their dancing style. ✔️
      (The drums enhanced their dancing style.)

    “Complement“it can also mean makeup or makeup. (With this meaning, it is often seen in the term“full complement“, that means“the whole number“). For example:

    • Do you have your full complement of men? ✔️

    The Verbs“To Compliment“and“To Complement“

    The above examples relate to nouns. However, both words exist as verbs.

    • I would like to compliment the pilot on such a smooth landing.  ✔️
      (I would like to praise the pilot.)
    • The jade and silver cufflinks complement the green tie.  ✔️
      (The jade and silver cufflinks go well with the green tie.)
    • He has worked hard for many years to break my record. I can only complement him for such terrific dedication. ❌
      (This should be“compliment“not“complement.“)

    Complimentary and Complementary

    Los adjetivos“complementary“y“complementary“they also cause confusion.


    “Complementary“Has two meanings. It means to express praise or free. For example:

    • Her review was extremely complimentary. ✔️
      (Here,“complimentary“means expressing praise.)
    • All drinks are complimentary. ✔️
      (Here,“complimentary“means free.)


    “Complementary“is used to describe things that are combined to improve a result. For example:

    • Our skills were different but complementary. ✔️

    Ways to Remember“Compliment“and“Complement“

    • “To compliment“and“to praise“both contain the letter i.
    • “To complement“and“to enhance“both contain two e’s.

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