Posted by: Jack Henry | May 31, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Complete

Complete vs Completed

Judging from the number of times I’ve been asked whether to use the word complete or completed in a sentence, I thought maybe I’d spend a few minutes on this topic.

Complete can be tricky because sometimes it is used as an adjective and other times it is used as a transitive verb. Before I show examples of the different uses, however, let’s look at their definitions (from Merriam-Webster) so you can see more clearly how they are different:

· complete (adjective): possessing all necessary parts, items, components, or elements: not lacking anything necessary: entire, perfect

· complete (transitive verb): to bring to an end often into or as if into a finished or perfected state: to execute (a forward pass) successfully

Now, let’s look at some examples of the two uses.


· Joey has a complete set of Iron Man comic books: from the first one published to the one from this month.

· The process of renewing her driver’s license is complete.

Transitive Verb

· After three hours, the backup was completed.

· Slim completed the pass to the new receiver, Bobo, who scored his first touchdown.

You may notice that a sentence like “After three hours, the backup was completed” could also sound fine as “After three hours, the backup was complete.” In this case, consider the different uses of complete and what message you are trying to get across. If you want to emphasize that the backup is finished, use past tense of the transitive verb, completed. If you want to emphasize that the backup contains all the necessary information and that it is whole, then you may want to say it is complete.

Contest Photo

Thanks to my Coloradan buddy, Richard, for this photo.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: