CS Sealey

Sydney-based sub-editor, writer and author

The difference between dependent and dependant

TLDR: Dependant is someone who relies on someone else. To be dependent on someone is the act of requiring support.

At a glance, you may think dependant is a typo. Behold! It is not. Well, not for most of us.

While dependent and dependant are two different words in all forms of English outside the US, US English users prefer to spell the noun dependant with ‘-ent’. (Stop thinking about Treebeard.) As someone living outside the US, however, I will spell it with the ‘-ant’ ending.

dependant (noun)—an individual who relies upon another, often financially or physically

The bachelor enjoyed living his comfortable existence without the hassle of dependants.

Children are the dependants of their parents until they leave home.

dependent (adjective)—relying on the aid or support of something

It’s sad how many people are dependent on drugs.

The chicks are completely dependent upon their mother until they leave the nest.

Patients are often dependent on their nurses for physical and emotional support.

So for all non-US English users, remember that the noun ends in ‘-ant’ while the adjective and its derivatives (such as interdependent) use the ‘-ent’ ending.

Burárum!

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