Is it dependent or dependant? Perhaps either one?
And what does this have to do with smoking hippopotamuses?
First, the grammar gremlin:
To be dependent (with an “e”) is to rely on, or be supported by, something or someone. Maybe I’m dependent, for example, on coffee to get me going in the morning.
In British English, a dependant (with an “a”) is one who is dependent. Thus dependent is the adjective, dependant the noun.
In American English, dependent (with an “e”) mostly is used for both adjective and noun forms. But dependant (with an “a”) is a rare alternate spelling that also can be used both ways.
Are these fixed rules? No, I’d say they’re merely fashion. There are plenty of Americans who use “dependant” according to the British model. And plenty of Brits who mingle the spellings interchangeably. (The British Oxford dictionary now supports this.)
Now let’s talk about that hippo connection.
My Anagram Addiction
My British food-blogger pal, Ian Dixon, recently created a recipe for “chip topped bacon and tomato pie”. I couldn’t resist pointing out that these letters rearrange to spell “tobacco-dependant hippopotami”.
That’s what got me wondering whether the correct spelling is “dependent” or “dependant”. As we’ve just seen, it really doesn’t matter: You can write it any ol’ which way!
Next, is it hippopotami – or hippopotamuses? Short answer: Who cares? Even shorter answer: hippos!
(This article is part of my series on words that are #worth1000pictures.)