This blog was featured on 05/14/2018
More Words That Are Easy to Confuse
Written by
Maria Murnane
May 2018
Written by
Maria Murnane
May 2018

Here are some words that sound similar but have very different meanings:

Complement vs. Compliment

Complement means to go well with, supplement.

  • That dress really complements the green in Jennifer's eyes

Compliment means to flatte

  • Gloria wants to compliment Jen on her how well her dress complements the green in her eyes.

Complementary vs. Complimentary

Complementary means goes well with, or acts as a complement.

  •  That dress is complementary to the green in Jennifer's eyes.

Complimentary means offering flattery or praise. It also means free.

  • Gloria was quite complimentary of Jennifer's pretty dress.
  • The tickets to the theater were complimentary as a thank-you for her charitable donation.

Assent vs. Ascent

Assent means to agree or approve.

  • After hours of deliberation, the condo association assented to Larry's request to add a deck to his unit.

Ascent means the act of moving upward.

  • Gloria's rapid ascent of the corporate ladder was much deserved.

Amiable vs. Amicable

Amiable means friendly and refers to a person.

  • Jennifer's amiable demeanor helped her smooth things over with the customer after she accidentally spilled a cup of coffee on him.   

Amicable means friendly and refers to a relationship.

  • George and Luisa are no longer living together, but they came to an amicable agreement about how to divide up their furniture.

Refer vs. Recommend

Refer means to send or direct for treatment or information.

  • Laura's primary care doctor referred her to a specialist for her knee pain.

(There are other meanings for "refer," but this is the one that gets confused with "recommend.")

Recommend means to endorse.

  • Laura's primary care doctor recommended a specialist for her knee pain.

What word pairs trip you up? Please share in the comments!


Maria Murnane writes bestselling novels about life, love and friendship. Have questions? You can find her at


This blog post originally appeared on Reprinted with permission. © 2018 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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