criteria vs criterion

  • mariposita

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Criterion is singular and criteria is plural. Many people use criteria for the singular, but this is technically incorrect.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Although some may regard it as pedantic, I have never noticed any adverse reaction to using criterion for the singular, but I've often felt the cringe when someone didn't.

    We hold criterion-based selection interviews.
    Who's going to ask the questions on criteria one?
    Pleugghh!
     

    geostan

    Senior Member
    English Canada
    For me, criterions is simply incorrect. I follow the pattern criterion (sing), criteria (pl).
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Well, what about "criterions" ? I've come across it on google !
    Google should never, EVER be used as an authority on anything, much less the English language.
    All Google does is index whatever somebody posts on an Internet site. It makes no difference whether it's good advice, utter nonsense or the ravings of a madman.
     

    kevin98230

    Member
    English
    Regarding the use of Google, I beg to differ. I think it depends on how one uses it.

    For example, if you are not sure about whether the word "criterions" exists or not.
    Try searching it in quotation marks AS WELL AS "bbc.co.uk" or any other major English website, like CNN news or something.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I think it is a bit unfair to jump on Little_LIS just because she said she found criterions through Google.
    There was no hint of "It must be right because I found it on Google," no element of citing Google as an authority.
    It's also useful to keep in mind that native speakers find it a great deal easier than learners to judge the reliability of any source.
    It was a gently-expressed question, and deserved a gently-expressed response.
     

    Little_LIS

    Senior Member
    Arabic,Egypt
    Many thanks, all. And special thanks to Panj ;)

    By the way, I've found it in online dictionaries ! And I was shocked that's why I'm asking you, native speakers, as those dictionaries might be unreliable sources !

    Can I send the links of the dictionaries?

    Thanks again.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'm intrigued, so I had a look rather than wait :)
    You'll find criterions listed as a possible plural in the following.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/criterion

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/criterion -
    Random House ... Like some other nouns borrowed from the Greek, criterion has both a Greek plural, criteria, and a plural formed on the English pattern, criterions. The plural in -a occurs with far greater frequency than does the -s plural

    American Heritage

    OED - Pl. criteria; less commonly -ons.
    1788 A. HUGHES Henry & Isab. I. 17 Regular uniformity and the straight line were the criterions of taste and beauty.

    Well, well, well.
     
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    geostan

    Senior Member
    English Canada
    I checked Webster's Unabridged dictionary, and indeed the form criterions is given. May I add, however, that I have never seen or heard that form, and I've been around for quite a while. ;)
     

    trickster_ace

    New Member
    english
    My feeling is that it's the same difference as 'person' vs 'people'

    Although 'people' is by far the more common plural form of 'person', the word 'persons' does exist in English.

    When used in this sense, 'persons' emphasizes the individuals rather than the collective.

    Example:
    "you must fulfill all of the criteria in order to pass"
    "there are 5 specific criterions that you must fulfill in order to pass"

    does this make sense?
     

    geostan

    Senior Member
    English Canada
    I can only say that I hav heard and used persons as well as people. But again, I have never heard criterions. So five specific criterions simply sounds wrong to me. I would say five specific criteria.
     

    ashmore100

    New Member
    English-UK
    Checked it in my oxford english dictionary and it does not list criterions as a word, it specifically says criterion, singular. Webster's is the American dictionary so if you are speaking US-English it sounds as though it would be correct. I'll stick to proper English though ;)

    P.s. Thanks Gwan :p
     
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    Gwan

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    Checked it in my oxford english dictionary and it does not list criterions as a word, it specifically says criteria, singular. Webster's is the American dictionary so if you are speaking US-English it sounds as though it would be correct. I'll stick to proper English though ;)

    It says criteria is the singular form? :confused: I don't know about your OED, but the OED online has 'criterion Pl. criteria; less commonly -ons.' Gosh, even in the bastion of 'proper English', who'da thunk it?
     

    ashmore100

    New Member
    English-UK
    Haha! Sorry, typo: *criterion, singular*

    my bad :p

    Update: I just checked and yes you are right it does list Criterions as a word online, but not in the edition i have (which, is a fairly extensive two volume leather edition, so I'm guessing it is very uncommon!), however, i retract my previous statement blaming on the Americans!
     
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    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    My home-based digital OED says the same:
    criterion Pl. criteria; less commonly -ons.
    [a. Gr. a means for judging, test, standard, f. judge. In 17th c. often written in Gr. letters.]
    a. An organ, faculty or instrument of judging.

    The OED is descriptive, and if any credible writers use a form that may not be considered correct by everyone, it may still be included:
    "1788 A. Hughes Henry & Isab. I. 17 Regular uniformity and the straight line were the criterions of taste and beauty."

    But my spell-checker rejects "criterions."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Update: I just checked and yes you are right it does list Criterions as a word online, but not in the edition i have (which, is a fairly extensive two volume leather edition, so I'm guessing it is very uncommon!), however, i retract my previous statement blaming on the Americans!
    Given that the Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition comes in twenty volumes, you shouldn't be too surprised if some of the entries in your 2 volume edition are a bit shorter and show fewer variations.;)
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Never met "criterions". Either criteria, or criterion.

    And I fully agree with SDGRAHAM about using Google as a reference for grammar.
     

    ashmore100

    New Member
    English-UK
    I wasn't trying to brag about the size of my dictionary (leather way admittedly irrelevant), what you say is exactly my point, the 20 volume edition uses many words not in common use anymore, and as the two volume edition misses out criterions i am assuming is it a very underused term.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    When English imports a noun from a language that inflects them, it usually adopts the nominative singular (or equivalent) and adds its own endings— -s, -'s, -s'— to make the nominative plural and the genitive singular and plural. Thus, we use troikas, troika's, and troikas', not troiky, troiky, and troek, respectively, and zeitgeists and angsts, not Zeitgeister or Aengste/Ängste (unless we are trying to show off our ability to understand Freud and Jung in their original German).

    Thus, it is hard to assert that criterions is "wrong."

    Historically, highly-educated users of English had also learned Latin and Greek—how much Latin and Greek you knew was the measure of how "educated" you were—and so educated people were able comfortably to use the plurals of Latin and Greek words, as they were also able to use hoi polloi without a redundant "the." Now that hardly any English users, especially in the United States, also learn Latin or Greek, the Latin and Greek plurals of words from those languages have to be learned individually as exceptions to the general rule, no different from "geese," "oxen," "men," or "children." "Criterion" and "phenomenon" are a couple of the Greek words whose Greek plurals "educated" people are expected to know, even if they can't write them in Greek letters or inflect them past the nominative plural. We wouldn't be surprised to hear, "I don't know nothin' 'bout them there criterions" from a hillbilly, but if a well-dressed Ph.D. mentions "criterions," those of us who know about "criteria" wonder about the quality of his graduate program.

    Therefore, we can consider "criterions" to have the same status as "gooses" or "oxes," or for that matter "medias" and "datas."

    "Forums" seems to be an exception to the exception: SOED doesn't give "fora" as a plural of "forums," even though it does give "data" as the plural of "datum." Perhaps for some reason "fora" was never used in English, no matter what the Romans did 2000 years ago.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would be very surprised to hear someone use "criterions" as a plural.
    I'm quite sure that anyone who is aware of the singular form, criterion, would also be aware that it is a singular form.

    The word "criteria" is widely-known.
    I have very often heard people use "criteria" as singular.
     

    geostan

    Senior Member
    English Canada
    I would be very surprised to hear someone use "criterions" as a plural.
    I'm quite sure that anyone who is aware of the singular form, criterion, would also be aware that it is a singular form.

    The word "criteria" is widely-known.
    I have very often heard people use "criteria" as singular.

    So have I!. In fact, relatively few people use criterion as the singular form, even among so-called educated speakers.
     
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