Tenants vs. Tenets

By Maeve Maddox

Both words, tenant and tenet, derive from the Latin verb tenere, “to hold,” but they are not interchangeable.

A tenant is someone who rents or leases a house, apartment, etc. from a landlord.

A tenet is a principle, dogma, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true.

The following examples of misuse were gathered from sites that offer some kind of professional service:

INCORRECT: Generally speaking, people don’t know how to teach leadership, but we can teach some basic tenants. 
CORRECT : Generally speaking, people don’t know how to teach leadership, but we can teach some basic tenets. 

INCORRECT: Simply put, the basic tenants of reading and writing are ignored. 
CORRECT : Simply put, the basic tenets of reading and writing are ignored. 

INCORRECT: This course is designed to give the students an overview of the basic tenants of Christian Doctrine.
CORRECT : This course is designed to give the students an overview of the basic tenets of Christian Doctrine.

INCORRECT: Odierno told our staff about the three basic tenants he uses to lead the U.S. Army: competence, commitment and character.
CORRECT : Odierno told our staff about the three basic tenets he uses to lead the U.S. Army: competence, commitment and character.

I did not find the opposite error in professional texts, but it is quite common in comments on sites related to renting. For example:

INCORRECT: most importantly, stay informed about your rights as a tenet.
CORRECT : most importantly, stay informed about your rights as a tenant.

INCORRECT: [The rule is] never enforced, but it does give the owner of the property a pretty quick and easy way to remove troublesome tenets.
CORRECT : [The rule is] never enforced, but it does give the owner of the property a pretty quick and easy way to remove troublesome tenants.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


Share


Leave a comment: