These 2 words are homophones. The pronunciation is the same but the spelling and meaning are different.
Pronunciation of compliment: /ˈkɒm.plɪ.mənt/
Pronunciation of complement: /ˈkɒm.plɪ.ment/
Both words can be a noun and verb. In this lesson you will learn the meaning and use of both words.
compliment as a noun
A compliment is a nice comment about someone or something.
Mark: I like your handbag.
“I like your handbag” is a compliment.
We use the following structures:
give a compliment to someone
Mark is giving a compliment to Jane.
give someone a compliment
Mark is giving Jane a compliment.
pay someone a compliment.
Mark is paying Jane a compliment.
A compliment is also an action that shows approval or respect. To tell someone that an action is a compliment, we say:
“Take it as a compliment.”
Mark cooks dinner for Jane. Jane eats everything on the plate.
Jane says to Mark, “Take it as a compliment that you are a good cook!”
Mark: My manager wants me to work with him on the new project.
David: You should take it as a compliment that he trusts you.
compliment as a noun – More examples
Jane: I like your necklace. It’s beautiful.
Jane is paying Clare a compliment.
Jane is giving Clare a compliment.
Mark: It’s not fair – I had to work late for my manager last night.
Sarah: Don’t be angry. You should take it as a compliment. It means he values your work.
Expressions with compliment as a noun
“My compliments to the chef.” (formal)
The food was excellent. Thank-you and respect to the chef.
(In a restaurant, speaking to the waiter)
Mark: This steak is delicious. My compliments to the chef.
“with one’s compliments”
If you give something to someone “with your compliments“, you give it to them for free. It is a gift.
(In a hotel room, written on a card next to a box of chocolates.)
“Please accept this box of chocolates with our compliments.”
compliment as a verb
to say something nice that shows respect or approval.
to do something that shows respect or approval.
Jane complimented Mark’s suit.
I complimented Sarah’s cakes.
compliment someone on something.
Our manager complimented us on our work.
Jane complimented Mark on his suit.
I complimented Sarah on her cakes.
The teacher complimented Clare on her homework.
Jane: I must compliment you on your good level of English.
Isabelle: Thank you.
complement as a noun
Something (or someone) that combines very well with something else.
Something (or someone) that completes something else.
Two people currently work in the export department:
Pierre – (speaks French)
José – (speaks Spanish)
The export department is going to recruit Karl. (speaks German).
Karl will be a good complement to the department.
Let’s buy the rug. It will be a good complement to the bed.
The red wine was a perfect complement to the steak.
complement as a verb
to make something or someone more complete or effective.
to combine very well with someone or something else.
Clare and Sarah are good friends. They complement each other very well.
Andrew uses photographs to complement the lessons on his website.
My website complements my YouTube channel.
The wine complements the taste of the cheese.
The rug complements the bed.
The bed complements the rug.
The bed and the rug complement each other.
Nice comments about people or things.
Actions that show you like or respect something or someone.
Someone or something that completes someone or something else.
Someone or something that combines well with someone or something else.
Tip to remember the difference between compliment and complement
Remember this sentence: “I say nice things about people.”
The first word of this sentence begins with a letter “i” and the sentence is the definition of “compliment” with an “i” ! Therefore, if your remember this sentence, you will remember that “saying nice things” means “compliment“, spelt with a letter “i“. The other definition is for “complement” with an “e“.
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