Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 5)

Continuing the series, here's the next installment:

Complement(ary) vs. compliment(ary)

Wrong: That color compliments your blouse.
Right: That color complements your blouse.

Complimentary can mean something nice said about someone, or something that’s free (such as a complimentary breakfast with your hotel room). Complementary refers to something that goes with something else, such as complementary colors, or two things that serve complementary purposes—one thing complements another. (A good wine complements a meal, for example.) Complement can also refer to the full amount of something, such as a ship’s complement (officers and crew).


Wrong: I use a numonic to help me remember my locker combination.
Right: I use a mnemonic to help me remember my locker combination.

As far as I know, there’s no such word as numonic. But I hear people say it all the time when they mean mnemonic (neh-MON-ik), which is a memory trick used to help remember things. (As an example of a mnemonic, “Roy G. Biv” represents all the colors of the rainbow, in order.)

That's it for now. Stay tuned for the next exciting adventure in grammar, spelling, and punctuation....


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