Grammar Giggle – A Perfect Compliment And Complement to Valentine’s Day

While I have the utmost respect for our clerk of the court being open on a weekend to issue marriage licenses and then our court being open in order to perform marriage ceremonies on Valentine’s Day (which was a Sunday this year), this court announcement caught my eye while I was looking for something else:


At first glance, it brought out the “ah, isn’t that sweet” in me, but the first sentence of the second paragraph had me gagging on my coffee. According to, “compliment” is an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration, for example “She paid me an enormous compliment on my dress,” while “complement” is something that completes or makes perfect, for example “A good wine is a complement to a good meal.” So you can see that the fact that the court was offering free weddings was a COMPLEMENT to the issuance of marriage licenses. It completed and made perfect the whole Valentine’s Day wedding theme they had going on. One way to remember the difference would be that a complIment is something I like to hear, while a COMPLEment COMPLEtes something. I hope they were complimented on their thoughtfulness in being open on a weekend to do this for couples who wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the ultimate fashion, but I also hope they learn the difference between “compliment” and “complement.”

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