What's the Difference Between Dependant and Dependent

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There's no problem here if you're an American: both the noun and the adjective are customarily spelled the same (dependent). But if you follow British spelling conventions, note the distinction between dependant (noun) and dependent (adjective).

The noun dependant refers to a person who depends on someone else for support (usually financial support). Dependant is the standard spelling of this noun in British English.

Dependent is the more common spelling in American English, though the word may also be spelled the British way.

The adjective dependent (always spelled this way in both British and American English) means supported, determined, influenced, or controlled by (someone or something else).

Examples

  • "Most dependent [US] students cannot afford to pay for college on their own, without parental help. The definition of a dependent student for federal student aid purposes is different than the definition of dependent for federal income tax purposes."
    (Mark Kantrowitz, "Answers to Your Questions on Scholarships and Student Loans." The New York Times [US], November 18, 2011) 
  • "The amount of loan a dependant [British] student gets depends mainly on their parents' 'residual' income. This is their gross income before tax and national insurance after deducting allowances for, for example, payments into pension schemes, and £1,130 for any other financially dependant child."
    (Jill Papworth, "A Parent's University Bill: £650 a Month." The Guardian [UK], August 10, 2013)
  • Fearful and anxious people sometimes become dependent on alcohol for relief from their symptoms.

Practice Exercises: Dependant and Dependent

(a) The applicant claimed to be a _____ of a deceased worker.

(b) It's a myth that a breastfed baby will turn into an overly _____ child.

Answers to Practice Exercises: Dependant and Dependent

(a) The applicant claimed to be a dependant [British] (or dependent [American]) of a deceased worker.

(b) It's a myth that a breastfed baby will turn into an overly dependent child.

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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "What's the Difference Between Dependant and Dependent." ThoughtCo, Jan. 31, 2018, thoughtco.com/dependant-and-dependent-1689365. Nordquist, Richard. (2018, January 31). What's the Difference Between Dependant and Dependent. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/dependant-and-dependent-1689365 Nordquist, Richard. "What's the Difference Between Dependant and Dependent." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/dependant-and-dependent-1689365 (accessed May 23, 2018).