From the Cambridge Dictionary

Complement: A complement is a number of people or things that makes something complete

Context 1

Imagine a English classroom

teacher: "What are all the English verb tenses?"

Ronald: "Present Simple,Present Continuous,Present Perfect,Past Simple,Past Continuous,Past Perfect,Future Simple,Future Continuous,Future Perfect, ... I don't remember"

Jeff: "Present Perfect Continuous, Past Perfect Continuous, Future Perfect Continuous"

Ronald's answer is not complete. Could Jeff's answer considered complement to Ronald's answer?

Context 2

Again, in that English classroom

Zhang S.: "Which aspect of speaking should I improve first?"

Ronald: "You could work on vocabulary, structures, pronunciation."

Jeff: "You should also improve your accent, I mean, reduce your accent in English."

Jason: "Not really, not every English speaker has a good accent, even native speakers."

The list of verb tenses in English is some kind of a fact that is widely recognized.

In contrast, the answers in context 2 are some kind of opinions, for which, could Jeff's answer considered complement to Ronald's answer?

  • To me, those are not natural uses of "complement". Check the definition at American Heritage Dictionary; each meaning has an example phrase or sentence: ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=complement Jun 19, 2020 at 1:19
  • @JackO'Flaherty Thank you. If neither of my contexts is natural use, which word could be substituted for "complement" for my contexts?
    – RobertH
    Jun 19, 2020 at 1:47
  • I made a suggestion in the answer I just posted, "rest". See if that helps. Jun 19, 2020 at 4:06

1 Answer 1


Usually, a "complement" is a complete set of something, like the crew of a boat, or a natural subset of something that, along with another subset, makes up a whole. It doesn't usually mean the missing parts of something that has been stated incompletely.

This definition gives some uses of the word, along with example sentences:
American Heritage Dictionary "complement"

For a word that could be used in your first example, the addition provided by Jeff is the list of verb forms missing from Ronald's answer. The teacher could say,
"Ronald missed a few. Jeff, can you name the rest?".

I can't think of a special word for your example 2, except "additional aspect", since, as you point out, it's not a well-recognized set but some opinions.

  • Thank you. This post does not seem to a good demo of using "complement", due to my contexts. Could you please copy the first half of the answer to this post which is for the usage of "complement"?
    – RobertH
    Jun 19, 2020 at 10:29

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