Dependent and Dependant

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
What is the difference between dependant and dependent?

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.

Dependent and Dependant

Writers following British writing convention often confuse dependent and dependant. Those following US writing convention have an easier time with these words because Americans do not use 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.)

  • 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.)


The word dependent is an adjective meaning contingent on, relying on, supported by, or addicted to.

  • I am dependent on the weather for a safe crossing.
  • (I am reliant on the weather.)

A Video Summary

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

Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

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 nouns? What are adjectives? List of easily confused words