Many words in English are commonly confused by both those learning the language and native speakers alike. Two such words are “complement” and “compliment”. These words are commonly confused due to their similar spelling and almost identical pronunciation. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the difference between “complement” and “compliment” and how to use them correctly in a sentence when speaking or writing.
Check out other easily confused words in English by visiting this page. Teachers and students can download this guide as a PDF file using the link at the bottom of the page.
“Complement” is a noun or a verb that refers to something that completes or enhances another thing, or to something that goes well with something else. As a noun, it refers to something that brings out the best in another thing or makes it complete. As a verb, it means to add to or enhance something else. The object of “complement” is whatever has been enhanced or completed.
How to use “complement” in a sentence:
- The red shoes complement her dress perfectly.
- The spices used in the dish complement each other well.
- The band’s sound was complemented by the new keyboardist.
- The bold tie complemented his suit well.
- The new sofa is a perfect complement to the living room decor.
- The dessert was a perfect complement to the meal.
“Compliment” is a noun or a verb that refers to praise or admiration given to someone for something they have done or for their qualities or appearance. As a noun, it refers to the expression of admiration or praise. As a verb, it means to express admiration or praise. The object of “compliment” is the person receiving the praise, and the praise itself can be connected to the sentence using the preposition “on” or “for”.
How to use “compliment” in a sentence:
- He complimented her on her cooking skills.
- The teacher complimented the student on their excellent essay.
- She received many compliments on her artwork.
- The boss gave a compliment to the team for their hard work.
- The musician was pleased to receive a compliment from the famous producer.
- She blushed at the compliment he gave her.
Why are “complement” and “compliment” commonly confused?
The words “complement” and “compliment” are commonly confused because they have similar spellings and pronunciations, and both can refer to something that goes well with something else. “Complement” is pronounced /ˈkɑːm.plə.ment/ in American English and /ˈkɒm.plɪ.ment/ in British English, whereas “compliment” is pronounced /ˈkɑːm.plə.mənt/ in American English and /ˈkɒm.plɪ.mənt/ in British English.
complement – a noun or a verb that refers to something that enhances or completes something else
compliment – a noun or a verb that refers to praise or admiration
Do you know the difference between “complement” and “compliment”?
Fill in the blanks in the following activity with the correct form of the word (“complement” and “compliment”):
- The steak and red wine were a perfect ________.
- I received a ________ on my new dress at the party.
- Adding cream to coffee can ________ the bitterness of the drink.
- The teacher gave the student a ________ on her presentation skills.
- The scarf really ________ her outfit.
- The singer’s voice was the perfect ________ to the orchestra’s music.
- He ________ her on her beautiful smile.
- The chicken dish needs a ________ to balance the flavours.
- The client was delighted to receive many ________ on his proposal.
- The interior designer ________ the furniture in the room.
Answers: 1. complement, 2. compliment, 3. complement, 4. compliment, 5. complements, 6. complement, 7. complimented, 8. complement, 9. compliments, 10. complemented