Usage Tip: Tenant/tenet

One amusing usage error is when people use tenant when they mean tenet. A tenant, of course, is someone renting a property, while a tenet is “a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come across phrases such as “one of the basic tenants of Marxism.” (I hope their rent is cheaper than mine.)

Merriam-Webster offers a suggestion for remembering the difference: tenant and occupant both end in -ant. So if you find yourself writing the word tenant, make sure you mean occupant.

Meanwhile, there’s also actor David Tennant, whose name has a whole three N’s. I personally come across his name so often in entertainment journalism that I often have to remind myself that the word tenant only has two N’s. But I would imagine he gets his name misspelled “Tenant” all the time. “Tenet” – less likely, but also possible.

David Tennant in blue shirt
David Tennant

If you’re interested in copy editing or proofreading services, email or use the contact form at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s