The Farlex Grammar Book > English Spelling and Pronunciation > Common Mistakes and Commonly Confused Words > dependent vs. dependant
dependent vs. dependant
What is the difference between dependent and dependant?
The suffixes “-ant” and “-ent” can cause writers a lot of confusion because they are pronounced the same and often have the same meanings (they are both used to form nouns of agency and adjectives that describe a state or quality).
Two words that typify this confusion are dependent and dependant. The word dependent is primarily an adjective meaning “relying or depending on someone or something for aid, support, direction, etc.,” or “influenced, controlled, determined by, or contingent on something else,” as in:
- “I’ve been dependent on financial aid to help pay for college tuition.”
- “The company’s profit will be dependent on whether this new device proves a popular success.”
Dependant on the other hand, is only a noun meaning “one who relies or depends on someone else, especially for financial support,” as in:
- “You are entitled to additional tax benefits if you have one or more dependants living with you at home.”
This spelling is more common in British English, though; in American English, it is more common to use dependent for both the noun and adjective meanings. Just be aware that you can only use dependent when the word is functioning as an adjective.
independent vs. independant
The confusion between dependent and dependant leads to a similar mistake when trying to write independent (“not dependent on or determined by someone or something else”). Just keep in mind that the word independent is only ever an adjective, so, like the adjective-form of dependent, it is always spelled “-ent” (independant is not a word).
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