Select Page

Dependant vs Dependent

16 February 2022

There’s a new foreign colleague

Dependent and dependant are two words that share the same word origins. Although they look and sound almost the same, there is a difference between them in terms of grammar. Dependant is a noun and dependent is an adjective. This is the main difference between dependent and dependant. However, there is still some confusion about the usage of these terms since dependent is sometimes used as a variant spelling for dependant, especially in American English. This article will explore the difference between these two terms and clarify this issue of usage.

Dependant – Meaning and Usage

Dependant is a noun. Dependant refers to a person who relies on another, especially a family member, for financial support. Until recently, dependant was the only correct spelling used for this noun. However, dependent has come to use as an alternative spelling for dependant. This practice can be mainly observed in American English. Some American dictionaries such as American Heritage dictionary and Merriam-Webster lists both noun and adjective under the entry dependent.

Nevertheless, dependant is still the most commonly accepted noun. Given below are some examples to clarify the meaning and usage of this noun further.  

Men with no dependants can volunteer to this mission.

It is difficult for a family with dependants to survive in this economy.

Two of the dependants were teenagers.

He is a divorcee with no dependants.

Dependent – Meaning and Usage

Dependent is an adjective meaning contingent on, relying on, addicted to, and determined by. Look at the following examples to understand the meaning and usage of this word more clearly.

Her plans are dependent on the weather.

He is heavily dependent on drugs.

The organization’s success is dependent on the leadership.

The guardianship of the dependent children will be decided by the law.

The successful project of the mission is dependent on the public response.

It is important to know that dependent is also used as a noun in American English. Here, dependent is also used as a variant spelling of dependant. However, this usage is not very common. Dependent is mostly accepted as an adjective.

What is a Dependent Clause?

One of the common grammatical elements you are likely to come across in the English language is a dependent clause. Hearing this phrase, it might be difficult to understand what exactly it is.

Simply put, a dependent clause is one that relies on being used with another clause, another type of clause, the independent (or main) clause. When used on its own, a dependent clause will not create a full sentence and needs further information to turn it into one.

Some examples:

If you work on Saturday, I will look after your children for you.

He can write more neatly than his friend can.

When the aeroplane lands will will get off it.

Because I cannot go to the gig tonight, you have my ticket.

You can sleep in the spare room whenever you are in town.

The price will be give to whoever wins the race.

When the car returnswe can go home.

She finally finished her college course after many years of studying.

The actor, who starred in the film, was very talented.

What about you? Do you have a pair of confusing words that you want to clarify? Why don’t you share them with me and the English Connection community in the comments section below! 

Sign up to join the English Connection community and get these free bitesize lessons every week!


  • Small Talk
  • Vocabulary
  • Pronunciation
  • Grammar
  • Culture
  • Business & Career
  • Leadership


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *