We Need to Talk About Grammar is a weekly feature in which I complain about grammatical mistakes I encounter all too often. Feel free to commiserate below, and check out the archives here!
This is one I run into pretty often; I wonder if people don’t actually realize that “complement” is a word. Most of the time, it seems people often use “compliment” when they should use “complement,” but I rarely see it mistaken the other way around.
Compliment – An expression of praise or admiration, i.e. “She complimented my organization of the pantry.” (Or a verb meaning “to express praise or admiration.”)
Complement – Something that completes something else or makes it better. (Or a verb meaning “to complete or make something better.”) See the photo above: it should have read “complement your steak”—unless, of course, the restaurant intends for its patrons to tell the steak how pretty it looks, which seems unlikely.
A good way to remember the difference is that complement means, basically, to complete something.by