Make Your Editor Cry: Criteria as Singular or Plural
In somewhat common and very incorrect use these days are phrases like “the criteria is”.
This is grammatically incorrect because the word “criteria” is a plural. The word is based on the Greek pattern -a and -on, so the singular form of “criteria” is “criterion”. Using “criteria” as a singular noun is essentially the same as saying “we is” or “they is” instead of “we are” or “they are”.
No major dictionary or style guide endorses usage of the plural form as the singular form, and most educated native speakers find it incorrect, so there is no valid reason to use “criteria” as a singular noun.
Correct in plural:
The main criteria are as follows.
Those are very important criteria.
These criteria were decided upon by the committee.
Correct in singular:
The main criterion is as follows.
That’s a very important criterion.
This criterion was decided upon by the committee.
There’s only one criterion.
The main criteria is as follows.
That’s a very important criteria.
This criteria was decided upon by the committee.
There’s only one criteria.
Gregg Bridgeman is the Editor-in-Chief at Olivia Kimbrell Press. He is husband to best-selling Christian author Hallee Bridgeman and parent to three. He continues to proudly serve in the US Armed Forces and has done so in either an active or reserve capacity for more than twenty years as an airborne and air assault qualified paratrooper, earning a Bronze Star for his service. Most importantly, he was ordained in October of 2001 after surrendering his life to Christ decades earlier.