The difference between these two words is simple to remember: dependant is a noun and dependent is an adjective.
- The dependent calf relies on its mother for food and protection.
- Official forms often ask how many dependants you have.
One way to remember the difference is to be confident that (like confident, silent, diligent and magnificent) dependent is an adjective, while dependant, like ant and pendant, is a noun. Try to remember these specific words as there also nouns that end in –ent and other adjectives that end in —ant.
Like a silent ant or a magnificent pendant, the adjective is dependent and the noun is dependant.
Waffle alert: ‘is dependent on’
The phrase ‘is dependent on’ is a classic example of using needless words, of making your reader read more words than they should have to. If you find yourself using ‘is dependent on’, try replacing it with ‘depends on’.
- instead of Our budget is dependent on getting a grant use Our budget depends on getting a grant
- instead of The location of the party is dependent on the weather use The location of the party depends on the weather
- instead of The ducklings are dependent on their mother use The ducklings depend on their mother.
Making depend into a verb rather than using it as an adjective will makes a sentence stronger: you can depend on it!
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