Earlier this week I wrote a post for my own blog and was reminded about two things: the difference between compliment and complement and the definition of a subjective complement.
Compliment and complement sound exactly alike. They’re homophones. They are spelled differently and have different meanings, however.
A compliment is a flattering statement. Your dinner guest might say, “This pesto is delicious. I’d love your recipe.” He’s complimented your cooking.
A complement is a thing that completes something else or brings it to perfection. A nice complement to angel hair pasta with pesto is a ripe tomato.
The tricky thing is remembering how to spell the correct form. Try this mnemonic device. I like compliments ( because don’t we love compliments?). The I in the previous statement can remind you to use the word with the i in it.
A subjective complement is one of those phrases you learned about in grade school. It’s a word or phrase that follows a linking verb (be, am, is, are, was, were,…) and renames or describes the subject.
My high school English teacher was a monster. (Not true, by the way.) Monster is the subjective complement because it renames teacher.
I have another example of a subjective complement, but I’m not sure it’s appropriate for this blog. I used it in the post I mentioned in the first paragraph. If you want to read it, go here. Read all the way to the end.
Now, go give someone a compliment!