Compliment, Complement

These two common words cause all kinds of confusion, but here is a simple way to differentiate between the two.

Compliment – a gentleman pays a compliment to a lady.

Noun :
1. an expression of respect, affection, or admiration
2. plural : best wishes : regards, as in
“My compliments to the chef!”

I pay a compliment to someone.

Tip for when to use COMPLIMENT (with an i)

Whenever I’m unsure which spelling to use, I think of this simple scenario:

I compliment you!

Use “i” in compliment when you can use “I” (myself) before the word, when you’re saying nice things about someone or something, as in:

  • I compliment the Chef!
  • I compliment the restaurant staff when my meal is absolutely delicious.
  • I compliment the Barista when my latte is thick and creamy and tastes fantastic.

When to use COMPLEMENT (with an e)

Complement – as in, “The red wine complements the roast dinner!”, which means wine goes well with food.

If you said, “The red wine compliments the roast dinner!””, you’d be saying the red wine is charming and telling the other food stuffs about the roast!


Noun :

  1. something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect
  2. full quantity, number, or amount (e.g. a ship’s complement of officers and crew)

Verb : 1 : to form or serve as a complement to
“Your new shoes complement your outfit.” which means the shoes go well with the clothes.

I do hope these tips on compliment / complement have helped you to understand when to use each one. Let me know if you have tips too.


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