Because American and British English sometimes have different spellings for the same word, beginning writers and English language learners can easily become confused. In some cases, the spelling of a word also changes based on its usage in a sentence. Dependent is one such word. In the past, it had been spelled as dependant when used as a noun. As an adjective, writers used dependent. Modern English has all but dispensed with this differentiation. It still exists in British English, though it is rarely enforced. Continue reading to find out in what situations you should use dependent and dependant.
The word dependant originated from late Middle English (denoting a dependency): from Old French, literally ‘hanging down from’, present participle of dependre
Dependant as noun:
Dependant is used as a noun in English language where it means a person who relies on another, especially a family member, for financial support.
A single man with no dependants.
His four sons are dependant on him.
Dependant as adjective:
Dependant is also used as an adjective which means contingent on another.
A dependent clause is not a complete sentence by itself.
Use of Dependant:
Dependant is an older word than dependent. Historically, dependant was the preferred spelling in British English when used as a noun. As an adjective, dependent has always been the preferred spelling. This distinction is waning, however, with dependent being with increased frequency in all contexts.
Determine if you are a student dependant (under 23), a mature student dependant (over 23 but living with parents on January 1st, 2016), or an independent mature student (over 23) who can prove independent living prior to October 1st, 2015. [The Irish Times]
Older people don’t want to become dependant, but councils need to help them help themselves. [Telegraph]
Polymetal’s prospectus concedes how dependant the company is on Mr Kerimov. [Independent]
Use of Dependent:
Dependent with an e is the new word which is most commonly used in American English. If your preferred audience are American, then these are the spellings you should be using.
Bahrain also faces increasing economic pressure as its oil-dependent economy has suffered from depressed global crude prices. [The Washington Post]
There is also likely to be a curb on the number of dependents they can bring with them. [Guardian]
Parents could spend more time with their children or other dependents. [Daily Mail]
Dependant or dependent:
Dependent and dependant are two variants of the same word. Dependant was the historically preferred variant when used as a noun in British English, but today both variants are accepted. American English uses dependent as a noun, and dependent is the adjective variant in both American and British English. Dependent will always work, so avoid dependant by remembering the a it shares with avoid. If you still can’t decide whether you should use dependant or dependent, you can refer back to this article for guidance.