Is it complementary or complimentary?
Both of these spellings exist and are very often used in the wrong context; this can, of course, have a negative impact on the writer/company using the wrong version and can damage hard-won image. Some classic examples of wrong use are outlined below.
This always has the meaning of ‘completing a set/making up a whole’.
This is used when saying that a tie goes well with (complements) a shirt, for example.
It is also used to describe a number of people making up a group:
- This ship has a complement of 256.
This has two meanings:
- One is that someone is expressing nice things about you, saying that you or something about you looks nice (a compliment/to compliment someone).
- The other (when used as ‘complimentary’) means that something is free of charge or done as an act of courtesy.
- The wine compliments the meal. WRONG (This means that the wine tells the meal how nice it is!)
- The wine complements the meal. RIGHT (They go well together.)