When to use “depend” vs. “depending”


Advanced English Grammar Course

We use depend and depending when one thing is strongly affected by another thing.

For example, if there is a lot of rain, the flowers in your garden will grow. If there is no rain, the flowers will not grow. This means the growth of the flowers depends on the rain – one thing (the flowers’ growth) is affected by another thing (the rain).

However, a lot of students are confused about when to use depend vs. depending. The answer involves the grammar of each sentence.

Use depend/depends when it is the main verb in the sentence:

  • “Will you go to the beach this weekend?”
    “I’m not sure. It depends on the weather.”
    (subject = it; main verb = depends)
  • The results of the survey depend on the types of questions asked.
    (subject = the results of the survey; main verb = depend)

When depend is the main verb, it is considered a “state verb” (not an action verb) and is never used in continuous form. NEVER say “It’s depending on…”

Use depending when the word begins a dependent clause. This means that the sentence already has a separate subject and main verb, and the dependent clause only adds some extra information:

  • We’re thinking about going to the beach, depending on the weather.
    (subject = we; main verb = are thinking)
  • Depending on the types of questions asked, the survey produces different results.
    (subject = the survey; main verb = produces)

Important note: we always say depend/depending ON, never “of” or “in.”

There’s another way to use depend/depending, meaning when one person is relying on another – they trust the other person and/or need the other person to do something. With this definition, we can use depend for relying on someone in general, and depending for relying on someone right now in a specific situation:

  • I don’t have a car, so I depend on my colleagues to give me rides to work every day.
    (in general)
  • I’m depending on you to get this project done by Friday.
    (right now in a specific situation)

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