To compliment or complement?

April 24, 2013 by in category Words with 0 and 0

complement, compliment-1

Are you using the right word?  An advert for a hairdressing salon in the local paper included the sentence “this new package will compliment the existing range of services…”. Spell check won’t pick this up because both words are correctly spelt.

If you get confused by the difference between compliment and complement, or if you’re unsure when to use them, then read on.

Merriam-Webster defines a compliment as “an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration; especially: an admiring remark”. The word is used when one wishes to, for example, “compliment the waitress for her polite service”.

complement, on the other hand, is used to refer to something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect. For example, “this new package will complement the existing range of services…”.

A list of commonly misplaced words to watch out for:


Premier vs. Premiere

Precede vs. Proceed

Compliment vs. Complement

Accept vs. Except

Could vs. Would

Can vs. May

Effect vs. Affect

Between vs. Among

Access vs. Assess

Regard vs. Regards

Beside vs. Besides

Phenomenon vs. Phenomena

Sometimes vs. Sometime vs. Some time

Into vs. In to

Cannot vs. Can not