Blog - Proofreading and Copy Editing

Homophones II

As promised we will now consider the difference between complement and compliment, two words which are often confused.


Verb: ‘to add to something in a way that enhances or improves’ (OED)

Noun: ‘an addition that improves something’ (OED)

Example: That tie complements your suit very nicely.


Verb: ‘to admire or praise someone for something’ (OED)

Noun: ‘an admiring remark’ (OED)

Example: She complimented her friend on her excellent cooking.

The same goes for the adjectives complementary (e.g. choose a complementary colour) and complimentary (e.g. he made a complimentary remark about my dress); but remember that complimentary also means ‘given freely, as a courtesy’ (e.g. she received a complimentary glass of wine with her meal).

Watch out for the next entry on advice and advise!

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