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Complete vs. Total: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Published on January 11, 2024
Complete implies that something is whole, finished, or fully accomplished, while total refers to the sum or entirety of something, often in a numerical context.

Key Differences

Complete and total both suggest wholeness but in different contexts. Complete is often used to describe something that is finished or fully made, indicating that nothing is missing. Total, on the other hand, refers to the sum of parts or the entire amount of something, especially quantitatively.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024
In usage, complete is employed to denote the state of completion or the process of making something whole. For instance, a project is complete when all its parts are finished. Total is used to describe the aggregate amount, like the total cost of items purchased.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024
Complete can also imply thoroughness or perfection in a non-quantitative sense. A complete understanding means fully grasping a concept. Total, however, is more numerical or quantitative, as in the total number of students in a class.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 11, 2024
The word complete is versatile, used in various contexts, from tasks and processes to personal feelings. Total, in contrast, is often associated with figures, such as total earnings or total distance.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024
Complete can be an adjective, verb, or noun (as in a complete set), while total is primarily an adjective or noun (the total, to total up).
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Primary Use

State of being whole or finished
Sum or entirety of something
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

Context

Completion, thoroughness, perfection
Quantitative, numerical sum
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 11, 2024

Example Usage

Completing a task, complete satisfaction
Total cost, total number
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

Function in a Sentence

Describes the state of something
Describes the sum or aggregate
Aimie Carlson
Jan 11, 2024

Grammatical Forms

Adjective, verb, noun
Adjective, noun
Harlon Moss
Jan 11, 2024
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Complete and Total Definitions

Complete

Finished or fully accomplished.
She completed her degree last year.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Total

Constituting the whole amount.
The total cost was $200.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 18, 2023

Complete

Thorough or perfect.
His understanding of the topic is complete.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Total

Entire or absolute.
They faced total defeat.
Harlon Moss
Dec 18, 2023

Complete

To make whole or perfect.
He completed the report yesterday.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Total

Complete in extent or degree.
The project received total support.
Janet White
Dec 18, 2023

Complete

Having all necessary parts.
The puzzle is complete.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Total

Sum of parts.
The total of 5 and 3 is 8.
Janet White
Dec 18, 2023

Complete

Total or absolute.
They enjoyed complete silence.
Harlon Moss
Dec 18, 2023

Total

To calculate the sum of.
She totalled the expenses for the month.
Harlon Moss
Dec 18, 2023

Complete

Having all necessary or normal parts, components, or steps; entire
A complete medical history.
A complete set of dishes.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 17, 2023

Total

An amount obtained by addition; a sum.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 17, 2023

Complete

(Botany) Having all principal parts, namely, the sepals, petals, stamens, and pistil or pistils. Used of a flower.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 17, 2023

Total

The whole amount of something; the entirety
The storm damaged the total of the housing units.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 17, 2023

FAQs

Can complete describe a feeling?

Yes, like complete satisfaction or happiness.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

Is total always about numbers?

Mostly, but it can also imply totality in a general sense.
Janet White
Jan 11, 2024

How is total used in finance?

It refers to the total amount of money, like total income.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

Can complete mean thorough?

Yes, as in a complete analysis or review.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

What does complete imply in a task?

Complete means the task is fully finished.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

How is total used in mathematics?

Total refers to the sum of numbers or quantities.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 11, 2024

Does complete apply to physical objects?

Yes, like a complete set of books.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

Does total imply finality?

Often, like the total score or total result.
Janet White
Jan 11, 2024

Is total used in insurance?

Yes, like in total loss or total coverage.
Janet White
Jan 11, 2024

Can total be a verb?

Yes, as in totaling up expenses.
Janet White
Jan 11, 2024

Can complete refer to emotional states?

Yes, like feeling completely overwhelmed.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

Is complete used in education?

Yes, like completing a course or degree.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 11, 2024

Can complete refer to relationships?

Yes, like a complete partnership.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

Is complete used in art?

Yes, like a complete collection or work.
Janet White
Jan 11, 2024

Can total refer to the extent of something?

Yes, as in total darkness or total coverage.
Janet White
Jan 11, 2024

Is complete used in sports?

Yes, like completing a race or game.
Janet White
Jan 11, 2024

How is total used in retail?

It refers to the total price or cost.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 11, 2024

Can total describe an outcome?

Yes, like the total effect or impact.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

Does complete have a temporal aspect?

It can, like completing something in time.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

Does total have a scientific use?

Yes, in calculating total measurements.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 11, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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