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For example, you did something but unsuccessfully. Then you tried another way to achieve an approximation to the same goal. Can you say that

you hope the second way can complement the pity that you couldn't succeed in the first way?

It sounds unnatural to me.

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I would use balance, as something good balances something bad. Complementing items are usually both good, or both bad. –  oerkelens Feb 22 at 13:36
    
Though "complement the pity" sounds a little odd, what strikes me more is "in the first way". (I'd prefer "you couldn't succeed the first time".) –  Damkerng T. Feb 22 at 13:47
    
It sounds unnatural partly because you have a very long chain of modifiers: you're almost at "complement of the pity of the failure of the first try." Usually, rephrasing in a simpler way fixes problems like this, as in @StoneyB's answer. –  David Richerby Feb 22 at 14:30
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1 Answer 1

  1. The noun pity only has the sense “something to be regretted” in the collocation a pity (or an abbreviation of this in which a is omitted), and even then only as a complement of the verb BE or in free-standing fixed phrases:

    It’s a pity she can’t come.
    His promotion is a real pity. What a pity!
    Pity you didn’t succeed.
    “But I’ll be fired!” he cried. “Pity,” she shrugged.

    In other contexts the noun pity means “sympathy”.

  2. Complement is probably not the verb you want here—it means “make complete” or, more loosely, “enhance by addition”. Perhaps you are thinking of compensate for, meaning “counteract” or “make up for”.

    You hope the second way will compensate for the disappointment of your previous failure.

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