Angela’s ABCs: Dependent and Dependant by Angela Caldin
One letter makes all the difference
There is often confusion over the words dependent and dependant.
Dependant is a noun:
A dependant is a person, often a child or a partner, who is supported by someone else; a person who relies on another, especially a family member, for financial support.
- All Palace staff and their dependants must be ready to leave when the revolution comes.
- He has eight dependants of varying ages from his three marriages.
Dependent is an adjective:
Dependent means contingent on, relying on, supported by, addicted to, and subordinate to.
- The ferry to Great Barrier Island is dependent on the weather for a safe crossing.
- Tokelau is one of New Zealand’s dependent territories.
- She is dependent on her friend to help write her essays.
- Plants are dependent on light for survival.
- He is dependent on his mother even though he’s over thirty years old.
- Many homeless people are dependent on drugs and alcohol to get through the day.
- In the US, the individual states are dependent on the federal government to some extent.
- A dependent clause cannot stand alone as a complete sentence.
An example for both:
- A child is dependent (adjective) on his or her parents; therefore, a child is a dependant (noun) of his or her parents.
- There’s no problem here if you’re American: both the noun and the adjective are usually spelled the same (dependent).
- There’s no such word as independant. It’s a misspelling of independent.