A complement or a compliment?
Complement (with an E) means something that completes:
She’s a complement to the surgical team.
She complements the surgical team.
Compliment (with an I) means praise or admiration:
The new surgeon gets a lot of compliments for her excellent work.
They complimented the new surgeon on her excellent work.
Compliment is like a gift and even though gifts are free, we say:
She was paid many compliments after the successful surgery.
They were very complimentary about her superior surgical skills.
Complimentary can also mean a gift when services or items are provided free of charge:
Pay for 10 massages and get a complimentary box set of essential oils.
But complementary means to enhance or emphasise the qualities of someone or something else:
These essential oils are complementary, so are often used together.
And of course:
More and more people are using complementary medicine, such as acupuncture and massage, in addition to traditional medicine.
To remember the difference, think E for complEment/complEte and I for complIment/gIft.
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© Christina Wielgolawski