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.

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.