Tabs on Writing

The Business of Business Writing by John Tabellione, Principal at

That’s Why They Put Erasers on Tops of Pencils

Date: 20 March 2017
Category: Grammar

Whether or not anyone ever uses pencils in this digital age, grammar and spelling can sometimes be complicated, but with a few memory tricks, anyone who writes–including professionals–can erase and correct embarrassing pitfalls, which we all do make. Just don’t always rely solely on “Spellcheck.”

For example, in a recent on-line article about landscaping trends, which included properly spelled tricky words such ambience, pollinators, al fresco, and croquet, the author tripped over a proverbial garden hose when it came to the second last paragraph.  With regard to the critical, long-awaited, Pantone 2017 “Color-of-the-year,” she typed the following: “…expect to see a greater emphasis placed on this yellowish-green and other shades that compliment (sic) it.”

Whereas “complement” means to complete, or to provide something felt to be lacking–in this case, the proper hues–it has to be one of the most misspelled/misused words by business people and professional writers alike. So, think of the “e” in “complete” when using complement.

On the other hand, “compliment” means to congratulate. Therefore, try to remember the “i” in the word “like” for compliment, such as: I consider the rest of the informative content of this gardening article very interesting.


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