pending and impending - the difference

The Quick Answer
Pending means awaiting an outcome (e.g., a decision, a settlement, a conclusion, or a confirmation).

Impending means imminent or about to happen. It often carries a negative connotation.

Pending and Impending

Pending and impending are close in meaning. Most Thesauruses will offer one as a synonym for the other, but they're not the same. Whilst confusing these words does not constitute a grammatical howler, you might portray yourself as a muddled thinker if you use the wrong one.

Pending

The adjective pending means awaiting an outcome (e.g., a decision, a settlement, a conclusion, or a confirmation). For example:
  • There are four pending issues.
  • The test results are pending.
  • This business is pending.
  • Good luck with the pending litigation.
Pending can also be used as a preposition:
  • He was released on bail pending an appeal.
  • Her trial is suspended pending further evidence.

Impending

The adjective impending means imminent or about to happen. It often carries a negative connotation (i.e., the imminent event will be bad). For example:
  • They waited for the impending storm.
  • Their impending demise ought to have been avoided.
  • The battle is impending.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? 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? What are prepositions? Glossary of easily confused words