Grammar 101: Complement vs. Compliment

by IELTS Australia — December 22nd, 2017

Complement vs. Compliment: Two words that can cause some confusion and it’s well worth to spend a few minutes to know the difference between the two.

Because “complement” and “compliment” are homophones (words that sound alike), they are often confused. Let’s look at both these words so we can tell them apart.

Click each topic to learn more about the differences between its and it’s.

Complement vs. Compliment: the difference
Complement

A noun: A word that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance, or quality.

Compliment

Is a verb: A word or phrase that describes an action, condition, or experience.

Complement vs. Compliment: the definitions
Complement
  • To make something else seem better or more attractive when combining with it
Compliment
  • A remark that expresses approval, admiration, or respect.
  • An expression of your admiration or respect.
  • If you give something to someone with your compliments, you give it to that person for free.
Complement vs. Compliment: the synonyms
Elicit

Could also mean (synonyms): Add, supplement, balance, complete, accompaniment, enhance, improve, boost.

Illicit

Synonyms include: Praise, tribute, approval, flatter, approve, admire.

Complement vs. Compliment: in a sentence
Complement
  • Wine and cheese complement each other well.
  • Her choice of wall colour complements her floors.
  • She co-hosts the morning show with Luke and they complement each other perfectly.
  • I hope to find a dress that complements my eye colour.
  • There will be a written test to complement the spoken test.
Compliment
  • Shower her with compliments if you want things to work in your favour.
  • I take your interest in my work as a compliment.
  • She gave me a copy of her latest book, with compliments.
  • My compliments to your mum, she has done an outstanding job raising you.
  • I have always wondered why I struggle to give compliments.

Reference: Cambridge Dictionary