"Tenet" Versus "Tenant"

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

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

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.


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).

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.