Criteria; phenonema

If you’re going to use the terms criteria and phenomena in your writing, you should understand that they are plural, not singular. You can’t have one criteria or a single phenomena. What you can have is one criterion or a single phenomenon.

Conversely, you can’t have several criterion or multiple phenomenon. What you can have is several criteria or multiple phenomena.

I find it shocking that so many writers and speakers, even those for whom writing or speaking is central to their profession, misuse the plural form as a singular or the singular form as a plural. Here are just a few recent annoying examples:

From the Boston Globe: “While the magazine explains that criteria results are averaged, they do not say how much weight each criteria [read each criterion] is given in the final consideration.”

From the San Francisco Examiner: “The ideal conditions for long-term wine storage are consistent temperatures ranging between 54 and 58 degrees, ample humidity and darkness. If you have a corner in your basement that fits this criteria [read these criteria or perhaps this criterion], you’re my hero.”

From Forbes: “I only became aware of this phenomena [read this phenomenon] this summer.”

From Discover Magazine: “[M]any of these phenomenon [read these phenomena] are fuzzy on the margins.”

I could find many other illustrations, but you get the idea.



Filed under Grammar and Usage Errors

2 responses to “Criteria; phenonema

  1. LYNN

    Ditto milleniums. Of course, we could also complain about the use of forums instead of fora, but most people don’t know their Latin these days.

  2. LYNN

    Ah; forgot medias.

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