What’s the difference between complement and compliment?

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Complement and compliment are homophones meaning they sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. This can be quite confusing when you are trying to figure out the right word to use in a sentence.

When it comes to complement vs compliment there are a number of things to break down. Let’s start with looking at the specific words themselves and then comparing and contrasting the two words.

What does “complement” mean?

Complement is often used to refer to something being added to something else to make it even better. For example, if you are wearing a nice dress you may put on some classy makeup to complement your appearance, or if you have a tasty cake you will complement it with some high-quality frosting to make it perfectly delicious. One other use of complement is when you have an assortment of something. Perhaps you have a full complement of drivers for your valet company, or a need a screwdriver to complete your complement of handyman tools.

What does “compliment” mean?

A compliment is when someone tells someone else something nice in an admiring manner. You can compliment someone on how beautiful they look today, or compliment a really juicy burger. When a compliment is given, it is directed at a specific person or item. A compliment can be given towards one thing or a bunch of things. The key element to it would be that it is expressing a positive thought.

Complement vs Compliment

As the above descriptions show, you could compliment how the frosting perfectly complements a cake, or observe that someone’s makeup complements their outfit in a complementary manner. When you are complimenting something it may very well be a complement to a person or object, but something does not have to be a complement to be complimented, that is a key point to take away. A compliment can be standalone, but a complement but its nature has something that it goes with to make it better.

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