Posted by: Idioma Extra | February 4, 2010

Thursday’s Tidbit


Criteria and Media

Which of these sentences are correct?

1. We will choose a new office manager on the basis of several criterias.
2. The most important criteria for a new office manager is organizational skill.
3. Before I interview applicants, I tell them that our criteria are very stringent.
4. Politicians claim that the media looks for trouble.
5. Television is an extremely effective media for advertisers.
6. The media have uncovered many scams in the past twenty years.

Only numbers 3 and 6 are correct.

“Criteria” is the plural form of the singular noun “criterion.” “Criterions” is also an accepted usage but “criteria” is the preferred choice as the plural form.

Sentences 1 and 2, then, should read as follows:

1. We will choose a new office manager on the basis of several criteria.
2. The most important criterion for a new office manager is organizational skill.

“Media” is the plural form of the noun “medium.” But we frequently hear “media” used as a singular noun, especially by the advertising industry.  

Here are the corrected versions of sentences 4 and 5:

4. Politicians claim that the media look for trouble. [The plural “media” needs the plural verb “look,” not the singular verb “looks.”]
5. Television is an extremely effective medium for advertisers.

Some other words are similarly confusing. “Data,” for example, is the plural form of the noun “datum.” While Webster’s dictionary notes that using “data” in the singular is now considered standard, many grammar fanatics insist that “data” is always plural. Thus, we would write,

“The data ARE being used to advance legislation on the issue because THEY are irrefutable.”

“Memoranda” has traditionally been the plural form for “memorandum,” but now Webster’s places “memorandas” ahead of “memoranda” as the plural of choice. (Or at the office, you can continue using the shorthand forms “memo” and “memos” rather than deferring to Webster’s on this one!)

Test Yourself! 

Check for the proper use of “criteria,” “criterion,” “media,” and “medium” in the following sentences. Be sure to check verbs and pronouns affected by those words, too.

1. Despite the popularity of television, radio, and the Internet, the printed page is still a viable media for the dissemination of news.
2. The criteria for promotion is the same this year as it has been for decades.
3. One criteria we are interested in is an applicant’s experience in sales.
4. While some artists are proficient in only one media (e.g., paint, pencils, or clay), Michelangelo created masterpieces in several medias.

Answers from Last Tidbit

  1. The electrical storm caused too much damage to the television set, so they had to throw it out.
  2. After the earthquake, the number of seriously injured people was so great that they had to call in international rescue efforts.
  3. Rebecca was a strong woman, but after her boss fired her, she was so hurt that she ran to the bathroom and cried. She knew she had lost a great job.
  4. The wound on her arm wouldn’t stop bleeding, so she went to the hospital.
  5. Most people know that sugar damages your teeth; however, the harmful effects of sugar are not as bad as those of nicotine on your teeth and lungs.

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