Better Business Writing – misused sets of words part 2

Complimentary, complementary

Complimentary means to express a compliment, i.e. to say something nice about someone, to be flattering. It can also mean free, as in “The drinks were complimentary“.

Complementary means balancing or going together well to make a perfect whole, e.g.,” The hat was complementary to the outfit.”

Elicit, Illicit

Elicit means to extract or draw out a response from someone by questions or actions. e.g. “He hoped his questions would elicit the answer he needed.”

Illicit means illegal, e.g. “He had a supply of illicit drugs hidden away”

Ensure, Insure

Ensure means to make sure of, as in “They took steps to ensure that everyone was properly looked after.”

Insure means to arrange for compensation if something goes wrong, e.g. “They took out travel insurance to ensure that if anything went wrong whilst they were away, they would get adequate compensation.”

Compare, Contrast

Compare means to look at the similarities between two objects. Contrast means to look at the differences between two objects.

Practise, Practice

Practise is a verb, whilst practice is a noun. “He practised the piano at the doctor’s practice.”

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About jdonbavand

I am a trainer of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project and Crystal Reports. I have called my blog "If Only I'd Known That...." because I hear it so many times in training sessions. In fact, if only I had a £100 for every time someone says "If only I'd known that." ....
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