March 6, 2008

Weekly Language Usage Tips: regards, compliment/complement

Posted in compliment/complement, regard/regards, regards at 8:47 pm by dlseltzer

Today’s tips are again inspired by a grant proposal I reviewed recently, but I see these errors so often that I think they’re worth a mention. These tips are brief but important.

Tip 1

“In regards to that point, I find that it is unwise to speculate.”

Ay yi yi yi yi! You can give someone “your regards” (good wishes) but that is its only usage. Don’t use “in regards to,” try instead “in regard to” or “in respect to” or even “regarding.” REMEMBER: “regards” means ‘good wishes’ and “in regard to” means ‘concerning’ or ‘in reference to.’ Because we rarely use “regards” in written form, your best bet is to stay away from it completely when writing. You will be correct more often than naught.

Tip 2

A “compliment” is a ‘positive remark about an aspect of someone or something’ or ‘an expression of praise or admiration.’ (NOTE: The plural of “compliment,” “compliments” means “regards,” but it’s best not to think about that now.)

“I want to compliment you on the quality of your writing.”

A “complement,” as a noun, means ‘something that completes something or brings to perfection’

” I have a full complement of Shakespeare’s works.” “A bit of chocolate would be a great complement to that cookie.”

To “complement,” as a verb, means ‘to add to something’ or ‘to complete something’ or ‘to coexist with something.’

“The spoon that is missing would complement my set of silverware.” “That citation is just right; it complements the rest of your citations.”

“Compliment” is rarely used in scientific writing and should be avoided. On the other hand, “complement” is used quite often, so when writing, remember the “e.”

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