Word Tip: How to use Criteria and Criterion

How to use “criteria” and “criterion” properly

Criteria often gets misused because people don’t realize it is the plural form of a word. (Data is another such word.)

Use criteria when you refer to a list or group of items.

The criteria for choosing the pump include delivery options, warranty, ease of upgrade, and price.

Our criteria have not changed since last year’s negotiations.

Use criterion when you focus on just one of the variables.

Price is only one criterion we are using to decide which pump to buy.

One criterion is the machine’s ability to cut through inch-thick carbon steel.

For another useful writing tip, see my column “Bi vs Semi”.

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Tom Fuszard, public speaking, discount travel


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