Compliment and complement may almost sound the same, but they are different and not interchangeable. Generally, compliment talks about flattery or admiration while complement talks about completion or a good combination. Moreover, both words can be used as a noun or a verb. We use compliment as a noun to express admiration, and as a verb, it means to offer a compliment.
Meanwhile, we use complement as a noun to indicate that something perfects another thing. As a verb, it means complementing something. Remember, compliment is used for admiration, while complement is used for completion or pairing things.
When to Use Compliment
Compliment can be a noun or a verb. As a noun, it’s an expression of admiration or good wishes. When paying someone a compliment, we say something nice about them. To send someone your compliments means to send your regards. As a verb, compliment is the act of offering praise.
Compliment as a Noun
An expression of admiration
His boss gave wonderful compliments on his work ethic.
Being compared to The Beatles is a great compliment and honor for the South Korean boy band BTS.
Being given compliments on my make-up by my girlfriends feels good.
Please accept my compliments on your wedding day.
Compliments of the season to you and your family.
Send my compliments to the couple.
Compliment as a Verb
To offer admiration
The guy who complimented my luxury bag has good taste in fashion.
Yenny compliments her husband every day.
My friend complimented me on my new hairstyle.
When to Use Complement
Like compliment, complement can be a noun or a verb. As a noun, it means something that completes or enhances another thing. We can use complement for things that go well together. As a verb, complement is simply the act of complementing something.
Tip: In everyday English, people typically say that something goes well with another thing rather than say they complement each other.
Complement as a Noun
Something that completes or perfects another thing
A glass of red wine would be an excellent complement to steak.
Pick a hat that’s a perfect complement to your outfit.
Their new grill is a complement to their stove.
The full quantity or number needed or included
The meal is provided with the usual complement of burritos and tacos.
We need a complement of appetizers and dessert for their order.
The event had a full complement of reporters and photographers.
Complement as a Verb
To complete or enhance with another thing
Joe and Athena complement each other very well.
The tables and images complement the text in the article.
The pastel whisk complements the heart-shaped mold container.
Compliment vs. Complement: What’s the Difference?
There’s a difference between compliment and complement. Although both words are used as nouns and verbs, compliment generally talks about admiration, while complement deals with completion or enhancement. Remember, when confused between the two, complement has “comple,” and it’s close to “completion.”
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.) Compliment. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/compliment
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.) Complement. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/complement
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Compliment. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/compliment
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Complement. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/complement
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Compliment. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compliment
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Complement. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/complement