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Grammar 101: Complement vs. Compliment

by IELTS

There are many words in the English language that look or sound alike but mean very different things. It may be difficult to tell which is the correct one in a given context, so it’s not surprising that many misuse these words without realising it.

We have compiled some “confusing” words to enlighten you in our Grammar 101 series – which will examine commonly confusing words and define them for you!

This month we will look at “complement” and “compliment” that are often confused.

Complement vs. Compliment: examined and defined for you

COMPLEMENTCOMPLIMENT
IT IS A NOUN

A word that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance, or quality.
IT IS A VERB

A word or phrase that describes an action, condition, or experience.
DEFINITION

To make something else seem better or more attractive when combining with it
DEFINITION

(a) A remark that expresses approval, admiration, or respect
(b) An expression of your admiration or respect
(c) If you give something to someone with your compliments, you give it to that person for free.
SYNONYMS

Add, supplement, balance, complete, accompaniment, enhance, improve, boost.
SYNONYMS

Praise, tribute, approval, flatter, approve, admire.
IN A SENTENCE

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.
IN A SENTENCE

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

Now that you understand the words and know how to use it in a sentence, take our 10-question quiz to test your knowledge.

Scroll down for answers

Quiz:

1. The principal thanked his teachers for their hard work and _____ (complimented, complemented) them on their amazing “never give up” attitude.

2. Most people I know struggle to accept _____ (compliments, complements) as they don’t believe they are good enough.

3. Jennifer’s beautiful orange dress _____ (complimented, complemented) her dark complexion and made her stand out from the crowd.

4. The additional service is necessary to _____ (compliment, complement) our regular service because of the huge increase in demand.

5. I want to tell Julie how beautiful she looks but I am afraid she might take the _____ (compliment, complement) the wrong way.

6. The white wine _____ (compliments, complements) the chilli prawn and garlic spaghetti.

7. They get along so well as their personalities _____ (compliment, complement) each other.

8. I secretly like the fact that he _____ (compliments, complements) me on my work every time we meet.

9. He predicts that the new tower will _____ (compliment, complement) the city centre’s overall look.

10. He _____ (complimented, complemented)  me but I told him the credit should go to my team instead, as they successfully launched the project with minimal guidance.

 

 

 

Answers:
1. complimented; 2. compliments; 3. complemented; 4. complement; 5. compliment; 6. complements; 7. complement; 8. compliments; 9. complement; 10. complimented

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