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As many words have similar sounds but have different meanings, it is highly frequent for people to use them incorrectly. Even native English speakers can make embarrassing mistakes, so we’ve created a list of “confusing” words and guidelines for using them.

The words complement and complement are homophones, which means they sound alike but mean different things. That’s why, these two words are frequently misused. But do not fret. The definitions of compliment and complement are covered below, along with instructions on how to use them properly.

Both compliment and complement came from the Latin words complēre, which means “to complete” while complement took a direct route, entering Middle English from the Latin complementum which came directly from complēre.

Compliment, on the other hand, is a derivative of the Medieval French verb compliment, and it entered English via Middle French via Italian and a Spanish word that meant “to be courteous” and “to fulfill what is due”, and that Spanish word being a modification of complēre.


Complement Usage

The modern applications of complement are clear indications of the connection between complement and complēre, which aids in recalling the range of meanings the term covers. Something that in some manner completes something else is referred to as a complement.

Furthermore, it is employed in technical contexts like those of mathematics, language, and medicine. Moreover, the verb complement means “to complete or enhance by supplying something additional”.


Compliment Usage

Between the two, compliment is more frequently used. Its present usage is clear evidence of its etymological connection to politeness. As a noun, it most frequently refers to a comment that is complimentary of someone or something, and as a verb, it conveys the utterance of such a comment.

When we praise someone for something they’ve accomplished, such as “What a great drawing!”, we are praising them verbally.


When to use “Compliment”

Compliment can both be used as a noun and verb.

Used as a noun: A compliment is defined as a “mannered comment that shows respect, affection, or admiration to someone or something,” such as when you tell your dad that dinner was great.

Here are some sentences with compliment being used as a noun:

  • She gave me a compliment on my new outfit.
  • Dinner was great. Send my compliments to the chef.
  • Micah was flattered by all the compliments she received after her performance.
  • Angelie said her teacher gave her a compliment on how well she played the violin.

Hence, when someone wants to congratulate you, they are praising you for something. Furthermore, when someone tries to repay a favor or treat you the way you have treated them, they are attempting to return the compliment.

Used as a verb: Giving someone a compliment entails complimenting them because the word compliment has the definition “to commend someone or convey respect or appreciation.”

Examples of compliment being used as a verb:

  • Bella complimented Erich on her new phone.
  • Mirabel said she always gets complimented when she gets a new dress.
  • I wanted to compliment Ash on his achievements.


Take note:

When something is complimentary, that means it’s free.


A complimentary breakfast was offered to us during our stay at the hotel.


When to Use “Complement”

Complement can both be used as a noun and a verb.

Used as a noun: Complement means to combine with something else in order to make it appear better or more appealing.


Iza said the silver dress was the complement to the shoes needed.

We wanted the painting to serve as a complement to the rest of the house.

The Cabernet is the perfect complement to the New York Strip.

Used as a Verb: Complement here means “to enhance, to add or improve something”.


Georgia said she was looking for a white coat to complement her new winter boots.

They were looking for an employee who would complement the position.

The painting complements the living room’s walls.


How to Remember the Correct Usage and Spelling of Compliment vs. Complement

If you recall, a complement with an E denotes something that completes another. After the L in the word complete, there is an E. Thus, complement—which also has an E after the L—is the appropriate term if you’re referring to something having to do with completion.

Remembering that to complement someone is to show admiration for them is one way to remember compliments with an I. Since admiration contains an I, you should spell it with a compliment.

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Leana was an administrative officer in a dialysis center. She has extensive experiences with all administrative tasks, including scheduling, information and billing. Having held positions in the medical and business field, leana is able to tailor her skills to meet the needs of various patients and clients. she has increased her efficiency in her skills and roles and became an effective employee in her company. As a senior Administrative Officer, she has helped the company earn millions when it comes to medical transactions. Leana graduated from West Visayas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Development Communication. After she graduated, she worked as an English Tutor in a Foreign School as her first job. She also served the community for a year and three months wherein she gained more experiences in her career record. She was also a holder of Civil Service License. During her college years, Leana was a member of Gawad Kalinga and Philippine League of Development Communication. After 5 years of working, she decided to shift to another career which is teaching. She took up the course Teacher Certificate Program in Phinma-University of Iloilo. She balanced work, school, social life and a mother. She did this to create a bigger future for herself and for her family. Leana is also a member of a non-government association in Iloilo City wherein her passions and hobbies can be shown off to other group members. Leana is a very passionate and goal-achiever person. She will do anything to be on top and be the best among the rest to reach for her better future. She is now waiting for the Licensure Examination for Teachers and hoping that she will pass it.