Dependent or Dependant?

What Is the Difference between "Dependent" and "Dependant"?

homeconfused wordsDependent or Dependant?
the quick answer

The Quick Answer

In British English:
  • Dependent means reliant on.
  • A dependant is a person (usually a child or a spouse).
In American English, you can use dependent for both.

Dependent and Dependant

Writers following British writing convention often confuse dependent and dependant. Those following US writing convention have an easier time with these words because Americans do not use dependant.


A dependant is a person who is dependent on someone else. (For example, a child is dependent on its parents. Therefore, a child is a dependant of its parents.)

  • All embassy staff and their dependants must be at the airport by 6 o'clock.
  • (In this example, the word dependants means spouses and children.)


The word dependent is an adjective meaning contingent on, relying on, supported by, or addicted to.

  • I am dependent on the weather for a safe crossing.
  • (I am reliant on the weather.)

A Quick Test

hot grammar tip

Hot Tip

In American English, Dependent Is Both Adjective and Noun

Writers following US writing convention do not need to worry about the word dependant as Americans use dependent for the adjective (meaning reliant on) and the noun (meaning a person). For example:
  • Two of my dependents became dependent on heroin. ()
  • Two of my dependents became dependent on heroin. ()

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