Difference between Compliment and Complement

September 26, 2016 by Editorial Team

Compliment and complement are two words that are often interchanged, and it is not surprising since these words are homophones. Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation but have different meanings or spellings. It is important to know the meaning of these two words so there won’t be any confusion the next time we use these words in a sentence.


Compliment is defined as an expression of affection, appreciation, respect or admiration. It is often a flattering remark or an offer of praise.


When she said that you have not changed at all, she meant it as a compliment.
Mary feels embarrassed whenever she is being complimented.
I have received hundreds of compliments today with my new haircut.

The word compliment can be a noun or a verb. In its plural form, you can use it to mean best wishes.

Complement is used to describe something that completes something else. When a thing complements something else, they go well together or supplement each other. Complement can also function as both a noun and a verb.


My newly tanned skin did not complement my hair, but it made my hair look dull instead.
The rustic chair was a perfect complement to the shabby chic look I was aiming for.
His skills complement the software.


These two words sound alike. Even when some people know the meaning of these words, they still tend to mix the words in a sentence. Compliment is about giving praises or positive remarks to someone, while complement is described as something that makes a thing complete or perfect.

There are a few tricks to be able to ascertain the difference between the two.

One is to remember the differences in their spellings. The word with the “e” means complete, and complement seem like it has the word complete in it. The word with the “i” is defined as dispensing appreciation and adoration. You are being kind to people by giving compliments, so remember this: I like giving compliments. Focus on the “i.”


She gave Mary a complement on how her dress complemented her fair complexion.

This first complement is incorrect because she does not complete Mary. The second complement is correct because the dress looks perfectly beautiful with her skin complexion.

She gave Mary a compliment on how her dress complemented her fair complexion.

This is correct because she praised Mary on her looks.

The colors of the ceiling complimented the ambiance of the living room.

This is incorrect because a ceiling can’t give praise to the living room.

The colors of the ceiling complemented the ambiance of the living room.

This means that the colors blended well with the overall look and vibe of the room.

Comparison Chart

Expression of praise or giving a flattering remarkTo complete something; an enhancement