Complement vs. Compliment: A Grammar Lesson

Thanks to this wonderful Pinterest post, there is no excuse for continuing to get this one wrong.

If you needed more incentive, the AP Style defines complement as a verb “denoting completeness or the process of supplementing something: The ship has a complement of 200 sailors and 20 officers. The tie complements his suit.”

In summary, compliment equates niceness or praise. Complement is completed.

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Do Poor Spelling and Grammar Mean Your Writing is Bad?

As you may have noticed, I deal a lot with words. I write daily and often am asked to help rewrite work done by someone else. I edit. I came across this tweet the other day from Fiona Talbot “Discussion in today’s Times: does poor spelling mean your writing is bad? What do you think?” And it really got me thinking.

I encounter misspellings a few times an hour. More often than not, this isn’t because the person is dumb, or incompetent, but rather it is because they were in a hurry. Or didn’t run spell check. Or both.

I am a huge advocate of writing a piece, then walk away for as long as feasibly possible (even if it’s just a few moments). The final step is to read it out loud. The out loud part is key. Yes, you might sound like a buffoon, but chances are you’ll catch mistakes you otherwise would have missed. I had several extremely smart professors that would ask me, before even looking at my paper, if I had read it out loud to myself. If the answer was no, they wouldn’t accept it.

This lesson is one I have taken to the workplace. When people bring me items to edit or rework, I ask them first if they’ve read it out loud. If they say yes, we move on. If they say no, I have them read it to me.

Most of the time, people will catch their own mistakes if they aren’t hurried. I know I am not perfect. I know I make mistakes regularly. I run spell check and accept word changes I don’t mean to. My grammar isn’t always perfect. The best I can do is try and get better and encourage others to do the same.