Distinguishing Between Criteria & Criterion

There are numerous English words with plurals ending in A, rather than the typical S. A prime example of this anomaly is “criteria,” which is the plural of “criterion.” However, many people mistakenly view “criteria” as singular, causing confusion between these two terms. This article seeks to clarify the differences between “criterion” and “criteria,” enabling readers to use these words correctly.

Criterion is an English word derived from the Greek Kriterion, where Krites means to judge and Krinein means to decide. A criterion is a factor, basis, or reason for comparison or decision-making. For instance, teachers may use a criterion to grade students on a test, or companies may have a criterion for selecting or rejecting job candidates. Banks often use an individual’s creditworthiness as their criterion when reviewing loan applications.

Criteria is the plural form of criterion, as is the case with other English words with Latin and Greek roots, such as data and media. However, people often use “criteria” as if it were singular, avoiding the use of “criterion.” This trend mirrors the shift in usage from agendum to agenda and from datum to data.

Although “criteria” is the plural form, many websites and authors use it as a singular term, raising concerns that “criteria” may eventually replace “criterion” as the singular form.

Key Takeaways

  • Criterion is a standard or benchmark that forms the basis for decision-making or comparison.
  • Criterion has Greek roots, and its plural form is “criteria,” similar to “data” and “media” being the plural forms of “datum” and “medium,” respectively.
  • Due to the increasing use of “criteria” as a singular term, it may eventually be accepted as the singular form, replacing “criterion.”
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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