Difference Between Compliment and Complement

In the English language, a homophone is a well-known notion. The word homophone comes from the Greek language, and it refers to phrases that have the same pronunciation yet have different meanings when spoken. Compliment and complement are two homophonic phrases in the English language that differ subtly in spellings and meanings. We cannot flip both phrases to avoid miscommunication.

Compliment vs Complement

The main difference between compliment and complement is that compliment means an expression of admiration or praise for somebody. On the other hand, complement means to complete something by increasing its value. Both the phrases compliment and complement act as a noun and a verb. It depends on the usage while speaking and writing.

Compliment vs Complement

The word compliment has been borrowed from the French language, which means to praise somebody. It has been part of English since the 17th century. Since the word is a noun and a verb, it has second and third forms that are the same. The second and third form of compliment is complimented.

Complement comes from the phrase “complete” or “fulfillment.” This term is derived from an old French term. Complementing or fulfilling something is what the word complement signifies. The phrase serves as both a noun and a verb. Furthermore, it becomes an adjective when the suffix (“ARY”) is added to complement.

Comparison Table Between Compliment and Complement

Parameters of ComparisonComplimentComplement
DefinitionThe word compliment means to praise any noun (people, animals, things).The word complement means to complete somebody or something.
AdjectiveThe word compliment is turned into the adjective complimentary by adding the suffix (ARY).The word complement can be turned into an adjective complementary by adding the suffix (ARY).
UsedThe word compliment is for appreciating someone or something.The word complement is for combining two things for enhancing each other’s quality.
A trick to RememberThe sixth letter of compliment is I. Here, I stand for Incredible (a positive adjective) for remembering the spellings.The sixth letter of the word complement is the English alphabet E.
ExampleHe compliments me every day.Biscuits complement tea very well.

What is Compliment?

Since the mid-seventeenth century, the English word complement has been in use. This English word was derived from the French language, and in the French language, it originated from the Italian language. It is a positive word and acts as a noun and a verb.

The English word compliment is to make a positive remark to someone you know or don’t know. It means to praise somebody’s look, work, nature, materials, etcetera. 

When we compliment someone on a small or large scale, it motivates them to appreciate themselves and perform at their best at work. It enhances their confidence in personal and professional life. So we must compliment when required.

We can compliment people verbally by giving positive remarks or on a virtual platform (liking and commenting on something on social media, texting some positive words to somebody).

The words such as beautiful, perfect, gorgeous, stylish, extraordinary, hardworking, etcetera are adjectives and are some of the words for complimenting. 

When writing the word compliment, people sometimes get confused about whether to write I or E for the sixth letter. To avoid this confusion and blunders, one must be fully aware of the spelling. Moreover, we should learn the usage of the word in the sentence.

The sentences we can make are:-

  1. He smiled at receiving the compliment.
  2. He compliments his wife.
  3. She complimented me.

In the first sentence, we used compliment as a noun. In the second and third sentences, compliment acts as a verb.

What is Complement?

The English language borrowed the word complement from the French language in the late 14th century. The prefix com, which indicates together, is used in this term. Depending on the context, it can be used as a noun or a verb.

The word complement means completing something by escalating its value. Both native and non-native speakers use this word frequently. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when writing the term complement in an article, essay, email, etcetera. Users must be careful with their spelling and write the sixth letter as E so that the word complement does not confuse them with the word compliment.

Since the word complement can be a verb, its second and third form is complemented. We use the word accordingly. When something goes well with another thing, we use the word complement. 

To exemplify, 

  1. The shoes are going well with my dress.
  2.  Biscuits look yummy with tea.
  3. My jewelry looks good with my suit.

We can make these sentences by using the word complement,

  1. My dress complements the shoes.
  2. Tea and Biscuits complement each other.
  3. My jewelry complements my suit.

So when something works in combination or looks best in combination, we use the word complement. 

Main Differences Between Compliment and Complement

  1. The word compliment means praising and appreciating people, things, or places. On the other hand, the term complement refers to the act of combining two things to increase the worth of both.
  2. The word compliment became part of the English language in the seventeenth century. On the contrary, the word complement became an English word in the fourteenth century.
  3. The word compliment is used to appreciate any noun. However, the phrase complement is to show the perfect combination.
  4. The word compliment can become an adjective as complimentary. On the other side, the adjective of complement is complementary.
  5. The sixth letter of the word compliment is I. On the contrary, in the case of complement, it is E.

Conclusion

The phrases compliment and complement are homophonic pairs in English. However, both words are interpreted differently, according to the requirement. Both the terms are originated at different times. We cannot flip the usage of both phrases. Otherwise, there will be miscommunication. The only similarity between both the words is their parts of speech (noun and verb).

People are familiar with the term “compliment,” which refers to giving someone positive feedback. On the other hand, the term complement has a different meaning. So both the phrases are used for distinct aspects. We must comprehend them without using them while speaking or writing.

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=kHkFgehwaCgC&oi=fnd&pg=PA297&dq=compliment+and+complement+English&ots=GOMqp-HT3r&sig=1RTyrKHnenmmeNwLS1MS9r_HTFk
  2. https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/16391/03190468-MIT.pdf
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