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'Attendant' or 'Attendee'? What Is the Difference? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 12 January 2024)


Attendant vs Attendee: Understanding the Difference

The words attendant and attendee may appear similar, but they have distinct meanings. 

What Does Attendant Mean?

An attendant (/əˈtendənt/) typically refers to someone employed to assist or provide services to others in a public place. For example, in a hospital, attendants may help patients with their needs or guide visitors to the appropriate areas.

There are various types of attendants. Consider the following examples:

The flight attendant helped a passenger store her heavy luggage in the overhead compartment.

✅ The petrol station attendant offered to clean my windscreen while I waited for the fuel to be pumped.

The parking attendant directed us to an available spot near the entrance of the mall.

What Does Attendee Mean?

An attendee (/əˌtenˈdiː/) refers to someone who is present at an event, gathering, or meeting. They participate or observe but may not have any specific responsibilities or roles beyond being present. For instance, attendees at a conference are people who are there to listen, learn, or engage with the content being presented.

Consider the following examples:

✅ The event organisers provided name tags for all the attendees to wear.

The conference organisers sent out a feedback survey to gather input from the attendees.

During the networking session, attendees had the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and potential collaborators.

In summary, an attendant is someone employed to offer assistance or services in a public place, while an attendee is someone who is present at an event or gathering.

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Examples from the Media

Qatar Airways, the major shareholder in British Airways, has long imposed strict working conditions and uniform rules on its flight attendants – "terminating" crew employment in the past and effectively forcing deportations for non-visible tattoos and other violations. The Guardian (2022)

One rang a doorbell to be admitted, and I was shocked when the museum attendant greeted me by name. —The Washington Post (2012)

"That event attracted 80 per cent [of] first-time attendees to Sydney Festival, and they weren’t just Sydneysiders, many were foreign inbound tourists," said Ansell. —The Sydney Morning Herald (2023)

The Toronto International Film Festival is kicking off its second day following an opening night that saw sparse red carpet crowds and attendees amid dual strikes by Hollywood writers and actors preventing many celebrities from attending publicity events. —Toronto Star (2023)

Practice

Choose the correct word to complete each sentence.

1. The conference attracted hundreds of attendants/attendees from various industries.

2. The flight attendant/attendee kindly helped the elderly passenger with her luggage.

3. The wedding had a large number of attendants/attendees, including family and friends.

4. The hotel attendant/attendee provided fresh towels and toiletries to the guests.

5. The event attendant/attendee ensured that all attendants/attendees were seated comfortably.

6. The zoo attendant/attendee carefully fed the tigers their daily meals.

Answer Key

1. attendees    2. attendant    3. attendees    4. attendant    5. attendant . . . attendees    6. attendant

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