Dependant or Dependent?

by Craig Shrives

Dependant or Dependent?

What is the difference between "dependant" and "dependent"?

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

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:
  • 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."

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