dependents, dependence

The words dependents, dependence sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. Why do dependents, dependence sound the same even though they are completely different words?

The answer is simple: dependents, dependence are homophones of the English language.

dependence
  1. :: noun

    The state of being dependent, as for support.

  2. :: noun

    Subordination to someone or something needed or greatly desired.

  3. :: noun

    Trust; reliance. See Synonyms at trust.

  4. :: noun

    The state of being determined, influenced, or controlled by something else.

dependents
  1. :: noun

    Plural form of dependent.

Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License and Wordnik.

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About Homophones

Homophones (literally "same sound") are usually defined as words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of how they are spelled.

If they are spelled the same then they are also homographs (and homonyms); if they are spelled differently then they are also heterographs (literally "different writing").