"Compliment" Versus "Complement"

Get a memory trick to remember the difference between the two spellings.

Mignon Fogarty,
January 29, 2012


It can be difficult to remember the spellings of  "complement" and "compliment." They’re homophones—one is spelled with an “i” and the other is spelled with an “e,” and they mean different things.


A compliment, with an "i," is a kind or flattering remark. If a guy says he likes your dress, he’s giving you a compliment. He’s complimenting you.


A complement, with an "e," is a full crew or set, and when something complements something else, it means they go well together. You might talk about a picture frame that complements a photo or the crew complement needed to operate a ship.

A Trick to Remember the Difference

To remember the difference between the spellings of these words, be a nice person and tell yourself

I like to give compliments.

Put the emphasis on the "I" when you say or think it. The "I" can remind you that the type of flattering compliment is spelled with an "i." 


The Grammar DevotionalGet more tips like this in The Grammar Devotional:

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