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Difference between Dependant and Dependent

Difference between dependant or dependent?

The terms Dependant and Dependent often cause confusion due to their similar spelling and pronunciation. However, they serve distinct functions in the English language. Dependent is commonly used as an adjective to describe someone who relies on something or someone else for support. Dependant, on the other hand, is used primarily in British English as a noun to refer to a person who relies on another, especially for financial support. Understanding the nuances between these two can enhance clarity in both written and spoken communication.

Quick Facts Table

Part of SpeechNounAdjective (primarily)
DefinitionA person who relies on another for support, especially financial.Relying on someone or something for support, especially financial.
UsagePreferred in British English for referring to a person.Used in both American and British English as an adjective; also used as a noun in American English.
Examples“She has three dependants.”“He is dependent on his parents for financial support.”
dependent meaning

Difference Between Dependant and Dependent

Definition of Dependant

As a noun, Dependant refers to an individual who depends on someone else for support, often financial. This term is commonly used in legal and financial contexts to describe someone who is supported by another person's income.

Definition of Dependent

When used as an adjective, Dependent describes someone or something that relies on another for support. It can refer to financial reliance, emotional dependence, or any form of support where one entity requires another to sustain itself. In American English, "dependent" can also serve as a noun with the same meaning as "dependant" in British English.

Origin of Dependant and Dependent

Both terms originate from the Latin word “dependere,” which means “to hang down” or “to rely upon.” The difference in usage and spelling has evolved over time, with “dependant” becoming the preferred noun form in British English and “dependent” being used in both noun and adjective forms in American English.


  • Dependant: /dɪˈpɛndənt/
  • Dependent: /dɪˈpɛndənt/

Comparing Dependant and Dependent

  • Function in a Sentence: Dependant is used to specifically refer to a person who is supported by someone else, often in a financial context. Dependent, as an adjective, describes the state of relying on something else for support. As a noun in American English, it aligns with the British English noun “dependant.”
  • Contextual Usage: Dependant is more commonly used in legal, financial, and social security contexts, particularly in British English. Dependent is widely used across various contexts to describe reliance in American English, and as an adjective in both language variants.
  • Emotional vs. Financial Support: While both terms can apply to emotional and financial support, dependant as a noun often implies a financial relationship, whereas dependent as an adjective can describe a broader range of support types.

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Dependant in Sentences

  1. “Her dependants include two children and an elderly parent.”
    • Refers to individuals financially supported by her.
  2. “The tax form asked for the number of dependants living in his household.”
    • Indicates people who rely on the household income for support.

Use of Dependent in Sentences

  1. “He is financially dependent on his family.”
    • Describes his reliance on his family for financial support.
  2. “The ecosystem is dependent on a delicate balance of species.”
    • Indicates the ecosystem’s reliance on biodiversity for health and stability.


The distinction between Dependant and Dependent lies primarily in their parts of speech and regional usage preferences. Dependant is a noun used in British English to refer to someone who relies on another for support, typically financial. Dependent, used predominantly as an adjective, describes the state of reliance on something else for support, but can also serve as a noun in American English to denote a person who is supported. Recognizing the context and regional preferences can guide the appropriate use of each term.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • Can “dependant” be used as an adjective?
    • Typically, “dependant” is not used as an adjective; “dependent” is the correct form when describing the state of reliance.
  • Is “dependent” acceptable as a noun in British English?
    • In British English, “dependant” is the preferred term for the noun use. “Dependent” is primarily used as an adjective, though it may be understood if used as a noun.
  • How does the usage of “dependant” and “dependent” affect legal documents?
    • Legal documents often specify “dependant” (noun) to refer to individuals who rely on the document signer, especially in British English contexts. It’s important to use the correct form to ensure clarity and legal accuracy.
  • Can both “dependant” and “dependent” refer to emotional support?
    • Yes, both can refer to emotional support, but “dependent” (as an adjective) is more commonly used to describe emotional reliance, while “dependant” (noun) often implies financial support.


What is the difference between “dependant” and “dependent”?

In American English grammar, “dependent” is the preferred spelling and is commonly used as both an adjective and a noun. “Dependant” is more commonly used in British English as a noun to refer to individuals who rely on another person for financial support. While both spellings are accepted, “dependent” is more commonly used in American English.

Which spelling, “dependent” or “dependant,” is correct?

In American English, “dependent” is the correct spelling for both the adjective and noun forms. However, “dependant” is an accepted variant spelling that is more commonly used in British English as a noun.

Which one is the correct spelling in terms of grammar, “dependent” or “dependant”?

In American English grammar, “dependent” is considered correct for both the adjective and noun forms. In British English, “dependant” is used as a noun, while “dependent” is used as an adjective.

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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