Sunday, August 26, 2012

Compliment Vs. Complement

There is no one as bad as I am about getting words mixed up. Lie vs. lay is one of my biggest errors. I don't know why but it is. The point is I really have no room to criticize others, but there is still two words that really bug me when I see them misused, and I have been seeing it more and more. Those words are compliment and complement.

They have been misused in books, journals, sales flyers that stores put in the newspapers, and I've seen it on billboards. Being one of those crazy people who actually owns a dictionary, I looked up both words to find the following definitions:

Compliment--An action showing praise and respect.

Complement--That which serves to complete; the full number required.

Our readers expect writers to know what they are doing, and that applies to not only our writing but our spelling and grammar. So we must be aware of our spelling and meaning of words along with all the other aspects of writing.

Faye M. Tollison
Author of: To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books:  The Bible Murders
                             Sarah's Secret
Member of: Sisters In Crime
                   Writers on the Move


Margaret Fieland said...

Faye, seeing this n writing, I notice that "complete" and "complement" both have the same first five letters. I now have an easy way to remember which is which.

Karen Cioffi said...

Faye, I hear you. I've noticed more errors in writing lately. Thanks for the definition of both words. Fortunately, I haven't gotten it wrong yet because I don't think I've ever used complement. :)

And, I agree, If you're a writer you have an obligation to be as professional and accurate as possible.

Kathleen Moulton said...'s so easy to find the correct word these days! If in doubt - check it.

Writers are all about words so we should be perfect.

Thanks, Faye for the reminder.


Heidiwriter said...

Good post. There are many words that are similar like this and are commonly mixed up. I ran across "pore" vs "pour" in the example of "poring over the material." It stopped me for a minute and I had to look it up! Turns out my instinct was right.

Magdalena Ball said...

Good one Faye. No help from a spellchecker there.

Faye Tollison said...

Margaret, I had not noticed that. Good point. Thanks for pointing this out to me.


Faye Tollison said...

Thanks, Karen. For some reason, I've noticed this mistake in these two words many times lately. And it hasn't been just in books. I actually saw it on a billboard, and it was used in the wrong context. I couldn't believe it! Anyway, I know I get words mixed up, and my noticing this has helped me to be more conscious of it.


Faye Tollison said...

You're welcomed, Kathy. Writing this blog was as much for myself as it was for everyone else out there. We, as writers, do have a duty to write like we know what we are doing. And you are so right. It's so easy to check those words. I have several dictionaries and several grammar books. Every writer should own both types of books. Thanks for your comments and support.


Faye Tollison said...

Thanks for your comment. There are a lot of words out there that can be mixed up. That is why we, as writers, have to stay on our toes.


Faye Tollison said...

You are making a very good point. I should have put that one in this blog. You cannot depend on spellchecker. If the word is spelled right, though it may have a different meaning, spellchecker WILL NOT pick up that it is the wrong word for the meaning you intend. I never use spellchecker for that reason. An example: break and brake. A lot of people don't realize this and faithfully rely on spellchecker. Thanks for pointing this out to me.

Shirley Corder said...

Good example, Faye. Thanks for pointing it out. It's always good to complement our knowledge of words.

elysabeth said...

Good posting. I don't have so much trouble with compliment and complement (was taught umpteen years ago the difference by the same method Peggy pointed out), but I still have problems with "lie" and "lay" and sometimes a few others but I'm always looking words up since my work requires that I have to be spot on with my spelling. I have, or used to have, a book of mixed up words somewhere but have marked an online source for this specific reason since I've misplaced my book. It really comes in handy - and naturally, at this moment I can't locate the site either - lol. I'll try to post it later but I must get back to work - chat soon - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of FINALLY HOME, a middle grade/YA mystery written very similar to a Nancy Drew mystery

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