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Difference between criteria or criterion

criteria or criterion

In the realm of English grammar and vocabulary, distinguishing between criteria and criterion is essential for precise communication. These terms, often used in academic, professional, and evaluative contexts, hold distinct meanings and applications. Criteria is the plural form, referring to the standards or principles on which judgments or decisions can be based. Conversely, criterion is the singular form, indicating a single standard, rule, or test on which a judgment or decision can be made. Understanding the correct usage of these terms not only enhances clarity but also showcases grammatical accuracy in one’s writing and speech.

Quick Facts Table

DefinitionStandards or principles used for making judgments or decisionsA single standard or principle used for making a judgment or decision
Usage ContextUsed when referring to multiple standards or principlesUsed when referring to a single standard or principle
Example SentenceThe criteria for selecting the winner include originality and creativity.The main criterion for the award is innovation.

Difference Between Criteria and Criterion

Definition of Criteria

Criteria are the various benchmarks or standards used collectively to evaluate, judge, or make decisions about something. This term is employed when multiple aspects or dimensions are considered in the assessment process.

Definition of Criterion

Criterion refers to a single standard, rule, or specific principle that serves as a basis for making judgments or decisions. It is used when the focus is on a singular aspect of evaluation.

Origin of Criteria

Criteria is derived from Greek, where it was used in the plural form to mean standards for judging or deciding. Its usage in English has maintained this plural sense, aligning with its etymological roots.

Origin of Criterion

Similarly, Criterion comes from Greek, where it referred to a means for judging or deciding. Its singular form in English reflects its singular use in original Greek.


  • Criteria: /kraɪˈtɪəriə/
  • Criterion: /kraɪˈtɪəriən/

Comparing Criteria and Criterion

When comparing criteria and criterion, it’s important to note the difference in their application based on the number of standards being referred to. Criteria suggests a multifaceted approach to evaluation, encompassing several standards, while criterion is focused, pointing to a singular, definitive standard.

Comparison Table

ApplicationFor evaluating multiple aspectsFor evaluating a single aspect
Contextual UseBroader evaluations and assessmentsSpecific, targeted evaluations
Example ContextAcademic admissions, job performance reviewsSpecific award criteria, a key performance indicator (KPI)

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Criteria in Sentences

  1. The selection committee outlined the criteria for the scholarship, emphasizing academic excellence and community service.
    • Explains the multiple standards used for selection.
  2. To qualify for the loan, applicants must meet all the criteria set by the bank.
    • Refers to the multiple requirements needed for qualification.
  3. The criteria for the research grant include innovation, impact, and feasibility.
    • Lists the various standards against which proposals are evaluated.
  4. Environmental criteria play a crucial role in the company’s procurement decisions.
    • Indicates multiple environmental standards considered in decision-making.
  5. The teacher uses specific criteria to grade student essays, such as clarity, argument strength, and grammar.
    • Mentions the several benchmarks used for assessment.

Use of Criterion in Sentences

  1. The primary criterion for this award is the innovativeness of the project.
    • Highlights a single standard for award selection.
  2. Safety is the non-negotiable criterion for approving construction materials.
    • Specifies the singular, most important standard.
  3. In this competition, the main criterion is the creativity of the entry.
    • Focuses on one aspect of evaluation – creativity.
  4. The criterion for selecting the new team member will be their ability to work under pressure.
    • Identifies a single quality as the basis for selection.
  5. Customer satisfaction is the key criterion for measuring the success of our new product.
    • Points to a single measure of success.


Understanding the difference between criteria and criterion is crucial for accurate and effective communication. By distinguishing between these terms, one can articulate evaluations and judgments more precisely, whether in writing, professional discussions, or academic contexts. Knowing when to use each term enhances clarity, showcases grammatical proficiency, and aligns with the precision required in various fields of study and work.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • What is the main difference between “criteria” and “criterion”?
    • Criteria is the plural form, referring to multiple standards or principles for judgment or decision. Criterion is the singular form, referring to a single standard or principle.
  • Can “criteria” be used as a singular noun?
    • No, criteria is always plural. The correct singular form is criterion.
  • How can I remember the difference between “criteria” and “criterion”?
    • Remember that criterion contains an “n,” indicating a single (one) standard. Criteria lacks the “n,” suggesting multiple standards.
  • Are there any exceptions to using “criteria” and “criterion”?
    • The usage of these terms is quite strict regarding their singular and plural forms; there are no exceptions in standard English usage.
Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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