Accepting Complements

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There are a number of words that people have a hard time keeping straight. Usually these words sound alike, but have very different meanings. For instance, should you say “Please accept my complement!” or “Please accept my compliment!”?

Accept or Except?

Accept is to take or receive something, while except means something is left out.

I am proud to accept this award.

Everyone except Jim was at the party.

Complement or Compliment?

Complement is something that complements something else or goes well with it, while compliment is a praise.

The new chair is the perfect complement to the rest of the furniture in the room.

My boss complimented my performance in the new account presentation.

The next time you are including these words in your writing, stop and reflect on the true meaning of the sentence so that you can be sure you made the right choice!

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9 thoughts on “Accepting Complements”

  1. Good post. 🙂

    I write quite a lot and I wasn’t even aware of the complement/compliment thing. Or if I was, it was subconscious and I did it without thinking.

  2. Hi Wayne – Affect is a verb and effect is a noun.

    You affect change in your organization. (Bring about a change)

    Yelling at someone affects their mood. (Has an impact on)

    Some drugs have harmful side effects. (The thing that the drug causes.)

    Let me know if this helps.


  3. In British usage at least, one effects change at an organisation. Those changes may (will) affect the organisation and its people, but they are effected by the executive responsible.

  4. Afshan –

    A dictionary is where you look up meanings, or definitions, of a word.

    A thesaurus doesn’t give definitions. You use a thesaurus when you are trying to find another word to convey your meaning. When you look up a particular word in a thesaurus, you will find suggestions of other words with similar meanings.

    Does this help?

  5. Mary, your answer regarding affect and effect doesn’t really tell the whole story. In typical usage, you’re correct, but affect can definitely also be used as noun, and effect can be used as a verb as well.


  6. Not to be pedantic, but your title should either have both words wrong (to indicate a “joke”), or both words correct (as one would suspect).

    An example of someone accepting a complement would be when I gave my prom date a corsage that matched her dress. She accepted my compliment when I told her she looked stunning.

    To really reach, excepting a complement would be if my work had a “no matching shoes and belt” policy, except for the janitor. If there was a “no praise” policy, then allowing one to say, “good job” once would be an example of a compliment exception.

    Except for the title of this article, I think this website is full of helpful advice for the aspiring English writer. Please edit the title to reflect either humor or concise-ness, your credibility suffers greatly when your title contradicts your following article.

  7. Let’s *not* be pedantic. A language system that evolves daily prevents mastery. In short, there are no *experts* in English.
    They are all dead.
    Having made that pedantic comment, I assert that we are all mere acolytes–repeatedly amazed by new examples of its complexity.
    (Please forgive my poor English)

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