Catherine Burns asked us to spend some time with complement and compliment.
A complement is something that completes. (Think of the e in complement as completing the connection. If your work group is organized for twelve people, but you only have eight people assigned, you don’t have a full complement. You’re not complete.
Complement can also serve as an action word (a verb): “The new printer complemented the work station.” (“The new printer completed the work station.”)
A compliment is an expression of praise. Hey! That was a good definition! “The CEO paid us a great compliment. She said we were the best department in the company.”
Compliment can also serve as an action word (a verb): “The CEO complimented the department. She said we were the best in the company.”
Next week, we’ll look at some more sound-alike-but-mean-something-different words.
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