dependent and dependant - the difference
 
In British English:

  • Dependent means reliant on.
  • A dependant is a person (usually a child or a spouse).
In American English, you can use dependent for both.
 

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Dependent and Dependant

For English speakers outside America, there is often confusion over the words dependent and dependant. (Americans do not need to recognize the difference between these two words. See "Hot Tip" on the right.)

Dependant

A dependant is a person who is dependent on someone else. (For example, a child is dependent on its parents. Therefore, a child is a dependant of its parents.)

Example:

All embassy staff and their dependants must be at the airport by 6 o'clock.
(In this example, the word dependants means spouses and children.)

Dependent

The word dependent is an adjective meaning contingent on, relying on, supported by or addicted to. The word dependant refers to a person and is a noun.

Example:

I am dependent on the weather for a safe crossing.
(reliant on the weather)
 
Select the correct version:



 
 

 
IN AMERICAN ENGLISH, DEPENDENT IS BOTH ADJECTIVE AND NOUN 

Two of my dependents became dependent on heroin.
(should be ...my dependants...)

Two of my dependents became dependent on heroin.
 

See also:

What are nouns?
What are adjectives?
List of easily confused words