Grammar Matters: Complimentary vs. Complementary


Today’s Grammar Matters blog focuses on when to use “complimentary” versus “complementary.”

ISSUE: Do I spell it with an “i” or an “e?”

When writing promotional copy, we are often faced with finding more upscale ways of communicating when something is “free.” A go-to option is “complimentary.” The tricky thing is that spell check won’t nudge you if you replace the i with an e because both are correct spellings but have different meanings.

Complimentary with an i is used when something is free or when you give someone a compliment.

Complement with an e means something that completes something else as when two things go well together.



Complimentary: 1. Receive a complimentary bottle of wine when you purchase two others. 2. He was so complimentary about her shoes that it almost seemed sarcastic.

Complementary: 1. Complementary colors are pairs of colors which when combined cancel each other out.


QUICK TIP: Remember that complementary has its root in the word complete. If you’re looking to express how something completes something else, use the spelling with an e!

Grammar tips compliments of BrandTuitive! :)