Both are awesome on a first date — complement means to complete something, and a compliment is flattering. If you feel you and your new friend complement each other, maybe it's because he's been giving you so many compliments like when he says you look like a supermodel.
To complement, with an e, means to complete or supplement something, such as chocolates complementing the flowers you give your date. A complement is the thing doing the completing. The chocolates are a complement to the flowers. Here are some things that go well together:
Even as teenagers, they finished each other's sentences, complementing and encouraging the other. (Golf Digest)
In Ms. Clinton's case, IAC said her "skills and background complement the existing areas of expertise of other board members." (New York Times)
GM mosquito technology must be evaluated as a complement to existing control measures. (Scientific American)
To compliment, with an i, is to offer praise to or admiration. This could be in the form of words or actions. You might compliment your date on his dance moves, for example. "Your moonwalk is perfect!" is a compliment. Here are more:
"I lived on people's compliments, kind words," she says. (Washington Post)
Biggest compliment: After Rob completed his waltz, Judge Len Goodman announced, "You've got the best footwork of any guy I've seen on this show ever." (Time)
Once spelled the same, compliment became distinct from complement around 1650. They're still pronounced the same. You see the difference when they're written, so as long as you're just yapping no one will know if you mix them up. When writing, though, remember that a complement completes something, but I like getting compliments.
A complement is something that makes up a satisfying whole with something else. Those shiny red shoes you just bought complement your shiny red purse. Continue reading...