Difference Between Complement and Negation (With Table)

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The world is made up of cells and every cell has its own story. Stories we write or read is probably what we are and can define us based on where we belong. Every story is incomplete without a particular concept of words named Complement and negation.

When we see certain things, we feel comfortable and when we hear certain things, we do feel pleasant. It is not because of audio and video of the picture but the words that are used to describe a particular feel. In English grammar, we call these words or group of words by name “Complement” without which the sentence or the statement is incomplete.

We do know the fact that a group of positive words together can create a positive statement and similarly the group of negative words together also create a powerful/impactful negative statement that when read gives a negative feel on the statement when reading. These words are called as negation words.

Both the complement and negation in a sentence depends on the context of the sentence, background information of the sentence and finally the speaker’s or writer’s intent in conveying the message to a reader/listener.

Complement vs Negation

The difference between Complement and Negation is the usage of these words depending on the situation like context, background information and the intent. Complement always gives a positive outlook whereas negation always gives a negative outlook on a sentence.


Comparison Table Between Complement and Negation (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonComplementNegation
OutlookThe outlook obtained is always positive irrespective of the words used.The outlook is always negative inclusive of the other words used.
Subject focusComplement always suggests something about the subject of the sentenceNegation always suggests negative information about the subject of the sentence
OutcomeIt gives a clear and more common output/answerThe output is not clear and raises an confusion again based on the statements
UsageMaximum a single word or an expression is used in the sentence for the concept of complementIt can have multiple words that represent a negative outlook
RestrictionsThe main verb used always is the phrasal verb hereThe main verb need not be a phrasal verb


What is Complement?

It is the term used for a word or the group of words that are required to complete the sentence or an expression.

If in a sentence there are no possible chances of removing particular words that we call as phrases and clauses, then we usually quote it as a compliment. There is no chance that we neglect the complements as they are required to make understanding very clear.

We have two different complements such as subject complement and object complement.

Example 1: Mathematics is difficult

Here in the above-mentioned example, Mathematics is the subject and the word difficult will be called as Subject complement. The Subject complement explains or expresses the quality of the subject and in other words, it is the adjective, noun or a pronoun that follows a linking verb.

Example 2: Practice makes mathematics easy

Here in the above-mentioned example mathematics is the object and the word easy will be called object complement The object complement explains or expresses the quality of the object and in other words, it is the adjective, noun or a pronoun that follows an object directly. We use both the complements to ensure that the completeness is fulfilled.


What is Negation?

There are statements in any language that indicates the positive effect on the knowledge level of the understanding and there are few words that can be used to change the effect from affirmation to an opposite denial and the process of doing this by adding few words is called as negation.

It is a process of converting an affirmative sentence into its opposite.

Example 1:

He is a nice guy – He is not a nice guy

Verbs in sentences are negated by placing the word not followed by an auxiliary or a modal verb. In simple terms, negation will be a grammatical change that contradicts or gives the opposite meaning of all or a part of the sentence created. Some of the negated words are no, none, nobody, never and nothing etc.

There are multiple methods of Sentence negation. The first one is constituent negation and the second one is exclamative negation.

Basic examples of negation:

Example 1: I will cook the dish.

Correct: I will not cook the dish

Example 2: I can go to Bangalore tonight.

Correct: I cannot go to Bangalore tonight.

Example 3: We are planning a party

Correct: We are not planning a party

Main Differences Between Complement and Negation

  • The main difference between complement and negation is the type of statements formed (positive or negative), Complement offers a positive statement while the latter gives a negative statement. 
  • The output or the outcome of the sentence remains same and positive in the case of a complement whereas the output changes in the case of negation. 
  • Complement can be offered in a sentence using a single word while a group of negative expressions is required in the case of negation. 
  • The main verb that is used in complement is always a phrasal verb however it is not the same with the negation. 
  • Complement is countable but negation is not.



English is an international language. Approximately 1.5 billion out of 7 billion people on this planet know to speak English as per several surveys. This Language has many features and options that make it easy to convey the message appropriately in a particular situation without changing the context or the mode.

The message can be conveyed in a different tone and intent with some of the options like passive voice, active voice. The same message can be conveyed politely or harshly or in a commanding manner as the demand of the situation.

We had a complete overview of two such components of the English language. Complement and Negation. Though in statistical terms, both may sometimes convey the same intent, in English grammar though, it has its own set of differences that make it unique.