Dependant or Dependent?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Dependant" and "Dependent"?

"Dependant" and "dependent" are not interchangeable. In the UK, there is a distinction between the two words. In the US, "dependant" is not used.

In British English:
  • "Dependant" is a person (usually a child or a spouse).
    • My wife is my only dependant.
  • "Dependent" means reliant on.
    • We are dependent on the weather.
In American English, use "dependent" for both.
  • My wife is my only dependent.
  • (In the US, "dependant" is a spelling mistake.)
  • We are dependent on the weather.
  • (When "dependent" means reliant on, the UK and US versions are the same.)
dependant or dependent (UK vs US)?

More about "Dependant"

For Brits, 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 sentence with "dependant":
  • 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.)

More about "Dependent"

Both Americans and Brits use "dependent." The word "dependent" can be used as an adjective, but it is most commonly seen in the term "dependent on" and is used as a preposition. It has four closely related meanings:

(1) Contingent on
  • Dependent on the weather, we will start the final ascent at 5 o'clock.
(2) Reliant on
  • Our safety is dependent on the weather.
(3) Supported by
  • He is dependent on his parents.
(4) Addicted to
  • He is dependent on coffee.

Americans Can Ignore "Dependant"

Remember that Americans use "dependent" for the person, the adjective, and the preposition. For example:
  • I think my dependents are dependent on jelly beans. () ()
  • I think my dependants are dependent on jelly beans. () ()

A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the difference between "dependant" and "dependent."

A Video Summary

Watch a video showing 10 big differences between British English and American English.

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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? List of easily confused words

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