Difference Between Compliment and Complement (With Examples and Table)

Compliment vs Complement

The key difference between Compliment and Complement lies in the fact that compliment stands for the admiration or praise whereas complement means to complete something, enhance or improve it.

A good example of a compliment is – Mike complimented Amy on her beautiful eyes.

While a good example of complement is – Those black gloves with his black jeans and black jacket complemented his biker look.

People love compliments. Or is it complements that they love?

These two are among the most confusing pair of words. The words are pronounced pretty much the same, yet bear two different meanings that are not in any way connected.

They’re the perfect examples of homophones – words that sound the same yet bear different meanings.

A compliment is a polite expression of admiration and praise. It also used to show approval and respect. It can be used in a formal conversation or speech or more casually in a courteous greeting or to wish someone well.

Examples in a Sentence:

“Trust is a better compliment than love.”

“Our compliments go to the students who represented us during the tournament. You made us proud.”

A Compliment as a Noun or Verb

A compliment can either take the form of a noun or a verb. If used as a noun, then it’s a positive comment about something or someone.

  • “You have a nice skin tone.”

That’s a compliment when used as a noun.

When used as a verb, then it simply means to make a positive comment about someone or something.

  1. “The students were complimented for winning the tournament.”
  2. “I compliment all of you for showing up today despite the weather.”
  3. “I should have complimented you for your writing skills.”
Compliment
Compliment Example
 

What is Complement?

Complement means to complete or to bring something to perfection or completion. It can also be used to mean two things blend or go well together.

Examples in a Sentence:

  1. “This dress complements your new pair of shoes.” That means the dress goes well with the new pair of shoes.
  2. “We complement each other as couples.” That means we’re a good team together.

The adjective form of complement is complementary – and it means that, even though two things are totally different, they go well together.

  • “Writing is another great complimentary skill to a web developer.”

Complement is also used in science to refer to the proteins that circulate in the blood. It’s a protein system (commonly referred to as the complement system) that refers to specific proteins that match specific antibodies.

These proteins complement (or rather, complete) the antibodies, hence the name.

A complement system consists of more than 20 different protein molecules found in the human blood.

Every time someone is infected with any form of the disease, this system is activated, triggering a sequential flow of events that together help to destroy the pathogen in question and eradicate the infection.

Complement is also used in mathematics. Here, it’s used to indicate the amount that must be added to something or another figure to complete it.

It’s also used in geometry to refer to the angle that must be added to an arc to complete a right angle.

Examples in a Sentence

  1. “Arranged in the living room were a 7-seater sofa set and three wingback chairs, upholstered in colors that complement the wall paintings.”
  2. They’d make a great couple; their personalities complement each other.
  3. The new car would complement my new status in society.
Complement
Complement Example

 

Comparison Table Between Compliment and Complement (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonComplimentComplement
MeaningCompliment refers to a positive remark or comment made about something or someone. It refers to words of praises or motivations made about someone or something.Complement refers to something that goes together with something else. It also refers to something that completes something else.
Used forUsed to appreciate someoneUsed to complete someone or something
AdjectiveComplimentary, which has two meanings:When used as an adjective, complementary means to integrate two things, in a manner that they’ll each be highlighting the key qualities of one another.
To supply something for free, at no extra cost.
The act of expressing a compliment.
Example in a SentenceShe’s the only one that sent me a bouquet and card for passing the exam. So far the novel has received nothing but compliments from critics.The new dress complements your new hair-do.
The new dress complements your new hair-do, whoever advised you should be your new stylist from today.
I take that as a good sign. The compliment the judges gave helped boost the morale of all the contestants.Soda and crunchy biscuits are perfect complements, can’t come up with a better suggestion.
We fight, but we always have a way of putting our differences aside and working together as a coupl
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Main Differences Between Compliment and Complement

Here are the key distinguishing features of the two words:

Meaning

The word compliment with an “I” is an expression of gratitude, gratefulness, or honor to someone.

Complement with an “E” on the other hand refers to something that fills up or complements another thing.

It’s used to indicate counterparts – i.e., two parts that enhance each other’s value. It also used to indicate two things that work perfectly together.

Usage

A compliment is a formal way of expressing gratitude, respect, thanks, and good wishes.

Complement, on the contrary, refers to something that brings another to completion or perfection.

It used to indicate that an object or someone completes another.

Adjective

The adjective word to compliment is complimentary. It has two meanings:

  1. Where it expresses a compliment and
  2. Where it refers to the act of supplying something at absolutely no cost.

The adjective form of complement is complementary. It refers to the enhanced value that comes with using two things in combination as opposed to using them as individual units.

It refers to the effectiveness and quality of using two items as a combination and not as two separate individual units.

Examples in a Sentence

Compliment Sentences

  • We want to compliment you for graduating. Not all students get to finish up school.
  • Your presentation deserves a compliment. Keep up the good work.
  • The employees were complimented for working together as a team to make the project a success.

Complement Sentences

  • We just happen to know the right outfit that would complement this new pair of shoes.
  • You need a new gadget to complement your newfound hobby.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Compliment and Complement

? ⚙ What does it mean when someone says we complement each other?

When someone says that ‘we complement each other’ it means they are perfect for each other as they complete each other.

It is a way of expressing the fact that together they make up for each other’s shortcomings and add to the skills and qualities possessed by each.

? What is the best compliment for a couple?

The best compliment for a couple is to acknowledge that they make a perfect pair and complete each other quite beautifully.

This implies that they look simply great when they are together as a couple. Such compliments are perfect for greeting newlywed couples or the ones who are celebrating occasions like anniversaries.

? Can one use compliment and complement in a sentence?

Both ‘Compliment’ and ‘Complement’ have different meanings and are used in different contexts.

The word ‘Compliment’ means to express one’s admiration. Here is an example of how the word can be used in a sentence: “During the party, she received some fresh compliments for her new attire”.

The word ‘Compliment’ is used as an adjective or a verb. For example, here is a sentence wherein the word is used as an adjective: “The hat she wore was a perfect complement to her holiday outfit”.

? Does complementary mean free?

The word complementary does not mean free. It is a word generally used to explain a feature, attribute, object, or situation that enhances or improves the quality or value of something.

Note that, the word that is actually used to express something that is offered free of cost is ‘Complementary’ which has the same pronunciation as the word ‘Complementary’.

? What does complementary ticket mean?

A complimentary ticket means a ticket that is offered for free as a form of appreciation.

It is generally considered as a thanking gesture wherein a ticket that actually has a certain price value is offered free of cost in return for the goods or services one has purchased or paid for.

Distributing complimentary tickets or coupons is a common type of promotional technique that helps business owners in attracting new customers and retaining the present ones.


 

Infographic

Compliment vs Complement

 

Conclusion

The easiest way to clear the confusion existing between these two words is to remember their meanings.

A compliment has the letter ‘i’ in it, and is nothing more than an admiring remark made about something or someone.

Complement, on the other hand, refers to two divisions that complete something or work perfectly together. It’s related to the word complete, which happens to be deeply tied down to its meaning.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Compliment and Complement

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Compliment and Complement. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

compliment and complement
Word Cloud for Compliment and Complement

 

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compliment
  2. https://www.assessmentcenters.org/Assessmentcenters/media/2008/IC2008_Murphy_ThorntonResponse.pdf
  3. https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/canres/66/7/3954.1.full.pdf