Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!: Compliment versus Complement

Writers Unite!’s mission is to offer a haven for writers to share their work and hone their craft. As the writing process is our focus, author, and WU! admin, Lynn Miclea has created a series of “tips, tools, and tidbits” about writing for our members or anyone interested in writing to help improve their writing. Check the menu bar for any tips you may have missed or click on this link.

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!

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People often mix up the words compliment and complement. Although these words sound the same and there is only one letter different, they have different meanings and uses. This should help to use them properly.

Compliment can be a verb or a noun. As a verb, it means to express praise, approval, or admiration. As a noun, it is an expression of praise, approval, or admiration. The form complimentary means free. If you mean praise or approval, use compliment.


  • He gave a sincere compliment to his date.
  • She blushed at his sweet compliment.
  • He felt embarrassed by the compliment about his muscles.
  • She wore her new dress and was hoping for compliments.
  • He sent his best compliments to her mother.
  • Trying to win her over, he complimented her on her appearance.
  • The motel stay came with a complimentary breakfast.
  • He loved the meal and sent his compliments to the chef.
  • The lecture included a small complimentary gift.
  • She complimented her student on a job well done.

Complement can be a verb or a noun. As a verb, it means to complete, supplement, balance, or enhance something. As a noun, it is something that completes or supplements something. It shows things go well together. If you mean to complete or supplement something, use complement.


  • That scarf is a wonderful complement to her outfit.
  • The company has a full complement of employees.
  • The color of her dress was a nice complement to her eyes.
  • The two of them complement each other perfectly.
  • Her skills complement his very well.
  • He chose a good wine to complement the meal.
  • She wore complementary colors.
  • A great dessert is the perfect complement to the meal.
  • Her skills were a great complement to the project.
  • The new carpeting complements the room very well.

Hint: I like getting compliments; a complement completes something.

If you mean to express praise or admiration, use compliment.

If you mean to complete or supplement something, use complement.

She complimented him on being a great complement to the team.

Please look at the chart for an easy summary and helpful reminder.


I hope you find this helpful. These tips and more grammar tips and tools are also on my website and blog, and also in my Grammar Tips book. Thank you!
Website – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/
Blog – https://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/
Grammar Tips Book – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09N2BQMCG/

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