complementary misuse example

Is your free report “complimentary” or “complementary”?

Offering a free report to folks who sign up for your email list is a great marketing technique. However, you risk making a mistake if you substitute a multisyllabic word for “free.”

Look at the example in the image below, which shows a sticker that appeared on a local newspaper. I feel confident the advertisers wanted to push the benefits of a free class. Too bad that’s not what they offered.
complementary misuse example
“Complementary” doesn’t mean “free.” It addresses the relationship between two or more items. Taking this ad literally, it suggests that if you pay to take a music appreciation class, it will enhance your experience in the other courses, lectures, or seminars offered by the advertiser.

“Complimentary,” meaning “given free or as a favor,” is the word the advertisers needed.

When you offer a report at no cost to your newsletter subscribers, please consider making it “free.” You’ll avoid an embarrassing mistake. Also, the single-syllable “free” is easy for your readers to absorb.

If you must go multisyllabic, please use “complimentary.”