en
  • Find tutor

Compliment versus complement

The only difference between the words looking at them is just the “i” and the “e.” These two terms, however, are not interchangeable. They have completely different meanings.

Olaoluwa Ajayi
Olaoluwa Ajayi

The terms “compliment” and “complement” are frequently interchanged but have very distinct connotations.

The only difference between the words looking at them is just the “i” and the “e.” These two terms, however, are not interchangeable. They have completely different meanings. “Compliment” refers to praising or appreciating someone or something, whereas “complement” refers to completing or perfecting something. This emphasizes the fact that the words are not interchangeable because they have separate meanings.

What does “compliment” mean?

A compliment is a statement of appreciation and adoration, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. We cherish and admire our friends and family in daily life.

This is a compliment. For example, if we say, “You look great today,” that’s a compliment. In other words, it appreciates someone. Let’s look at some more examples.

Assume you’re listening to one of your buddies belt out a song. After the display, you normally compliment the person by saying things like “It was a lovely performance,” or “Your voice is incredible.” All of them are compliments.

What does complement mean?

Complement, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “anything that fulfills or enriches something.” It elucidates what it means to improve or add to something. Let’s try to understand this also with an example.

Your shoes complement your dress.

In this case, the speaker is attempting to convey that the shoes give the garment a touch of completeness or perfection. Alternatively, it improves the dress’s charm. As you can see, complimenting someone or anything is not the same thing. It exudes praise as well but in a different way. Let’s look at another scenario.

“The condiment greatly complements the food” suggests that the condiment enriches the food while also complementing it. In contrast to the word “compliment,” complement means to improve or supplement.

What is the distinction between the terms “complement” and “compliment”?

  • A compliment is a word that expresses appreciation and praise.
  • Something that complements or enhances something else is referred to as a complement.
  • “Complement” can also refer to something that goes well with another thing.
  • The fundamental difference between a compliment and a complement is that a compliment is linked with praise, but a complement is related to something being improved.

Video examples:

The Prestige (2006)
Quiz Show (1994)
Vincent & Theo (1990)
Unfinished Business (20015)
EnglishIdioms & expressionsWhich is correct

Olaoluwa Ajayi

Writing is what I do in life. I like helping people in improving their skills and explaining any language topic they don't understand.


Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Valentina Dordevic

Hello! My name is Valentina. Book digesting is my specialty. I transform book ideas into easy-to-follow summaries, articles, study guides, reviews, essays, analyses, slides, or e-books.

Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.