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I would like to learn an adult person can be dependent on his/her parents? Do I use this phrase correctly?

For example :

"Oh mate you are 24 and you still live with your parents.I think you got used to be dependent on your parents, you don't want to move on."

Here what I am trying to say that I assume these people have been living with their parents all their life and kind of they develop a habit that parents do most of chores like cooking, laundry, cleaning or shopping etc.These people can earn their livings but live comparatively better off than in case they live by their own.

Or depending on suggests more financial support?

  • Your quoted sentence is wrong. It'll be - Oh mate you are 24 and you still live with your parents. I think you got used to be/being dependent on your parents, you don't want to move on. – Man_From_India Mar 3 '15 at 14:45
  • Well, I couldn't address your main concern :-( I think depend on here may mean financial or any activities. I think context is important. That is what I think. Wait for native speakers' opinion about it. – Man_From_India Mar 3 '15 at 14:54
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    @Man_From_India Your improvement still doesn't quite work. He needs "I think you have gotten used to being dependent on your parents. You don't want to move on." OR "I think you have gotten used to depending on your parents. You don't want to move on." Depending on and being dependent on both suggest financial support, though. That doesn't rule out the meaning that you are after, but it isn't the first thing that comes to mind. I can't think of a one word solution for you - perhaps someone else will. – Adam Mar 3 '15 at 15:15
  • @Adam Thanks Adam. I think I got why I should use perfect tense but I could not understand why I have to use 'being' instead of 'be'. Does it have to do with the context because the situation 'being dependent' has been lasting for a long time but is it a grammar rule? Should I ask this in another question? – Mrt Mar 3 '15 at 15:22
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    @Man_From_India and Murat: The structure is Subject + Verb + gerund. Depending and being (dependent) are both gerunds acting as object of the conjugated verb phrase "to get used to." – Adam Mar 3 '15 at 16:29
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This works just fine:

I think you've become too dependent on your parents, and you don't want to move on.


There are plenty of other ways you can say this, of course. You might be interested in this more idiomatic way:

Dude, you are 24 and still live with your parents. It's time to get loose from those apron strings.

The expression tied to your mother's apron strings means that you are too dependent on your mother, especially when it would be more appropriate to start gaining more independence in your life.

UE says:

A man who is tied to a woman's apron strings is excessively dependent on her, especially when it is his mother's apron strings.

A page at encyclopedia.com reveals:

apron strings, tied to one's mother's traditional phrase, meaning that a person who should be grown up is still subject to their mother's dominance;
from the mid 16th century, an apron string as the fastening of an apron has been used to symbolize the role of the mistress of a household


Another common English idiom comes straight from avian science:

You're still 24 and you live with your parents. I think it's time they kick you out of the nest.

The nest is a common metaphor to use for the home, particularly when discussing the topic of grown children leaving. For example, one Investopedia headline reads: Why Some Kids Never Leave The Nest, while The CSM asks: Adult kids at home: Time to kick the birds out of the nest?

Generally speaking, the kicking-out-of-the-nest expression addresses the issue more from the perspective of the parents.

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"Depending on" from cambridge dictionary: to trust someone or something and know that that person or thing will help you or do what you want or expect him, her, or it to do.

In the case of living with your parents, "depending on" has a connotation of financial support; but the general definition of it is to simply trust that something (the thing being depended upon) will help you in some way. So your usage wasn't specific to financial support, their parents doing chores, or any specific activity. But you are using the right word.

Also, please note that the sentence you cited had some mistakes; here is a correction:

Oh mate, you are 24 and you still live with your parents. I think you got used to being dependent on your parents; you don't want to move on.

Let me know if you want explanations on the changes I made.

  • Thanks for your answer.Do you think too like Adam I have to use present perfect as "I think you have gotten used to being dependent on ". – Mrt Mar 3 '15 at 19:02
  • @Murat it is valid to use either past simple "you got used to" or present perfect "you have gotten used to", but I think present perfect is more likely the one you want. You're probably trying to say that, over time, he's gotten used to it. Whereas using the past simple is saying that, at a specific time, he got used to it. – levininja Mar 3 '15 at 21:43
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"Oh mate you are 24 and you still live with your parents.I think you got used to be >dependent on your parents, you don't want to move on."

try something like:

"Mate, you are 24 and you still live with your parents. I think you are reliant/dependant on them. Do you not want to move on?"

Delete reliant or dependant as applicable.

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    This change removes the idea of becoming accustomed to the situation. Not only is the person reliant, they have an excess of comfort with regards to that reliance. – Tyler James Young Mar 3 '15 at 15:50
  • Well it is all ambiguous anyway as saying dependant suggest they cannot do it themselves. For example, "My baby cannot change it's nappy, it is dependant on me to do it for her" Whereas an adult being dependant on his parents would most probably mean financially as he or she would be capable of most things in life, unless of course they had some physicality that prevented them from not be independent. – MarkyMark Mar 3 '15 at 16:26
  • It’s possible that it’s sufficiently communicated through implications surrounding this (non-literal, incomplete) dependence, sure. There is a sort of meta-dependence occurring, though, where the speaker is suggesting that the person has become reliant on (habituated to) a lifestyle that is itself characterized by reliance. That’s where it gets really tricky. – Tyler James Young Mar 3 '15 at 16:38
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    By the way, your spelling of “dependant” is the noun form where the original spelling is correctly the adjective form. – Tyler James Young Mar 3 '15 at 16:43
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As I’ve discovered via comment conversation with another user, you have a uniquely tricky situation on your hands. You are attempting to describe what is essentially two layers of dependence.

I’d say you are correct that “dependent” has financial connotations
On one level, you are saying that this person is dependent on parental support. In my (USA) experience, the word “dependent” usually indicates financial reliance. This may have a lot to do with the language of our tax forms, on which any child you support is considered your dependent (we spell the noun and adjective the same here). If I overheard someone say:

She’s still dependent on her parents.

I would assume the person being discussed is reliant on her parents for money, whether or not she lives at home. In fact, I would probably assume that she does not live at home since if that were the case the speaker would have mentioned that fact instead and left the financial dependence implied.

“Dependent” has other connotations as well
In addition to the sense above, which would be most clearly understood in cases where someone relies on financial support, there are other elements that may play in the minds of the audience.

  1. Addiction (drugs). This is sometimes referred to as a dependency (on a substance).

  2. Relationships (psychology). Elements from psychology jargon have entered the vernacular, so you may hear references to dependent/enabler relationships or co-dependent relationships.

Dependency on dependency
As I mentioned at the top of the post, you’re probably getting tripped up on wanting to say similar things about the situation itself and this person’s relationship to the situation. Both are characterized by dependency:

  • Person’s situation: He depends on his parents to provide certain things.
  • Person’s relationship to the situation: He has grown dependent on this situation of dependency.

Alternative phrasings
To avoid all of the above, I think most native speakers would take a different path altogether. Here are some things I could imagine hearing about this situation:

  • “You’ve grown accustomed to the lifestyle your parents provide.”
  • “You need to leave the nest.” or “You need to cut the cord.”
  • “You are experiencing failure to launch.”

The last one may only work in the cultural presence of this movie (check the link for some real-world usage of “dependent”). There’s also an article in The Huffington Post, entitled Failure to Launch Syndrome: What You Need to Know to Help Your Dependent Adult Child, which was written yesterday has a lot of good examples of related language.

Editing the original phrase for tenses
Your original phrasing is pretty good, but the tenses don’t seem quite right to me. Here’s how I think they should be:

I think you’ve got(ten) used to being dependent on your parents...

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