Red Pen Diaries: Tenets and Tenants

Red Pen Diaries: Advice and Observations on Writing and the English LanguageToday I'd like to describe the tenets underlying the use of the word "tenants."

A tenet is, according to our friends at Webster's, "a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true."

A tenant is someone who rents (and occupies) a dwelling from a landlord.

It's unfortunately fairly common for me to see people writing about the "tenants" of this or that religion or philosophy. Of course, this is a silly error easily avoided by keeping the words' definitions in mind.

(Bonus!: A tenement is a house used as a residence; an apartment or flat.)


"I don't care how crazy the tenets of my landlord's faith are to me, I'm happy being a tenant in his tenement."

Or, in other words, you can rent an apartment from Tom Cruise, but you can't be a tenant of Scientology!