paid someone a compliment

quietdandelion

Banned
Formosa/Chinese
We paid Mr. White a compliment on his child's success.



Based on the above sentence, I wonder if I could make a similar one--We paid Mr. White a congratulation on his child's success.

Correct me if I am wrong. Thanks.
 
  • Steubler

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Logically, it seems that you should be able to say this, but in fact it is not correct. I don´t believe that there is any grammatical explanation for this. The language has simply evolved so that one can "pay" a "compliment" but not a "congratulation". One can also "pay his respects" to someone, "pay attention" to something, or "pay head" to a warning or such. This is simply a matter of learning the expressions, and unfortunately there is no rule.

    On the other hand, I am from the US, and I wouldn´t be surprised if there are places in the world in which native speakers of English would say "We paid him congratulations," but I have never heard this. Maybe someone else in this forum has more insight.

    NOTE: It should be "pay heed" above.
     

    BLIKOFL

    Member
    USA - Spanish
    Hi quietdandelion,

    I believe that compliments are paid while congratulations are extended, or presented, no?

    How about:
    We extended our congratulations to Mr. White on his child's success.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    We paid Mr. White a compliment on his child's success.



    Based on the above sentence, I wonder if I could make a similar one--We paid Mr. White a congratulation on his child's success.

    Correct me if I am wrong. Thanks.

    With the question being about using compliment/congratulation interchangeably, I wonder if the word "compliment" is correct in the first place. In fact, they're two entirely different things and to say that Mr. White was paid a compliment on his child's success sounds odd to me as a stand-alone sentence. What compliment would be paid? "You've been a very good father", "You've raised your child to be an excellent student" or "Your child's success in school is a reflection of your great parenting"?

    To me, it would be appropriate to congratulate Mr. White on his child's success (as in congratulating someone on a birthday or anniversary or graduation). I find it puzzling to say "We paid Mr. White a compliment on his child's success". Is it just me????:confused:
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Compliment is used for a lot of different nuances of meaning. Another example is when you call on someone in the form of a short social visit; you might describe that as paying your compliments, as well.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Compliment is used for a lot of different nuances of meaning. Another example is when you call on someone in the form of a short social visit; you might describe that as paying your compliments, as well.

    Yes, I understand that. What I don't understand is this: we immediately know, without having to go any further, what extending congratulations to Mr. White on his child's success means - congratulations are simply that. To say, however, that we paid him a compliment on his child's success just doesn't ring right for me... "We congratulated him" says it all. "We paid him a compliment" is ambiguous and I am left wanting to know what the compliment was.
     
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