- On December 11, 2018
Which of the following sentences features a word that’s being used incorrectly?
- Use images that complement and reinforce your message and convey a real-world look and feel.
- This new offering compliments the company’s existing flextime arrangements.
- Shoppers receive complimentary shipping on orders over $50.
If you chose the second sentence, you chose correctly. In it, the word compliments should be complements.
To complement means to complete or enhance something—or someone. Think of the famous scene from the movie Jerry Maguire, where Tom Cruise says to Rene Zellweger, “You complete me.” (And she, in turn, says, “You had me at hello.”) To compliment means to congratulate or praise, as in He complimented me on my promotion.
Both words come in verb, noun, and adjective form. You pay someone a compliment and if you say nice things about them, you’re being complimentary. Complimentary also means free, so if you’re at a restaurant and get something compliments of the chef, it’s not going to show up on your bill.
As for the various forms of complement, if you’re hiring somebody, it’s often wise to focus on candidates who have complementary skills because they will be able to do things you can’t, and your team will be all the stronger for it.
If you enjoyed this post, I compliment you on your good taste.