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"Tenet" Versus "Tenant"

Grammar Girl has a Quick and Dirty Tip to remember the difference between "tenet" and "tenant'.

By
Mignon Fogarty,
February 4, 2012

Deana H. asked, “Have you ever addressed ‘tenet’ vs. ‘tenant’? I am seeing this usage mistake quite frequently these days.”

“Tenet” and “Tenant”: The Root

If you’re trying to remember the difference between “tenet” and “tenant,” knowing the Latin roots won’t help. Both words come from a root that means “to hold.” 1,2 You can think of a tenet as a belief somebody holds and a tenant as someone who holds an apartment or house.

Other words that come from the “tenere” root include “tenacious” (to hold firm) and “tenure” (to hold a job). 3,4

“Tenet” and “Tenant”: Quick and Dirty Tip

Remember that a person who lives in an apartment or house is spelled with an “ant”—tenant—by thinking that ants can also live in an apartment or house.

References

1. tenet. Merriam-Webster online. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenet (accessed February 4, 2012).
2. tenant. Merriam-Webster online. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenant (accessed February 4, 2012).
3. tenure. Merriam-Webster online. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenure (accessed February 4, 2012).
4. tenacious. Merriam-Webster online. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenacious (accessed February 4, 2012).

101 Misused WordsGet more tips like this in 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again:

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