No. 9 - How to Spell - my Complementary or Complimentary Soapbox

It's important to know the difference between compliment and complement
on Tue 18 Aug


There are a few trip-you-up similar sounding words like farther and further, affect and effect  that get misused. The ones I would like to vent about today however, are complementary and complimentary. Over 1400 people have checked out how to spell the one they want on here! 


I love the way the English language constantly reinvigorates itself with new meanings of old words and brand new words coming into daily use BUT alongside the novel and the innovative certain words become casualties along the way.

Like the words complimentary and complementary.


Gentle reader, please be warned I am likely to get into a right old rant when I see these incorrectly used so  you can imagine my reaction one Sunday when I found “complimentary” instead of “complementary” misused in both The Sunday Times and in an inserted flyer for The Economist . Now here is the difference between the two words:


Complementary, spelled with an "e" in the middle means something which completes or goes well with something

Complimentary spelled with an "i" in the middle means praises or flatters.


So what do you make of this?

"Call for your free copy (of the Economist) today and receive a complimentary one gigabyte memory stick"

- this would imply that the memory stick would leap out of the packet take one look at you and say "Gosh you’re looking drop dead gorgeous today”

and this 

"The Times and The Sunday Times IPad Editions are now complimentary to our subscribers"

- presumably they come pre-loaded with the "Call me gorgeous" app?!


Please, please use these words in the appropriate way - if anything to restore my blood pressure to its normal level!

If you want to know when to use its or it's; their, there or they're; your or you're click here


Does the use (or misuse) of any particular word drive you mad? I'd love to hear. And if English is not your first language or you struggle to get your message across get in touch with me about my copywriting service. 



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