Writers Talk About Writing
What Are the "Criteria" for Plurals from Greek?
It's time once again for the latest in our series of quick tips on usage and style shared by Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl. Here Mignon clarifies how to pluralize some nouns derived from Greek (sometimes by way of Latin).
Criteria comes from Greek, and it is the plural form of the singular word criterion. You have two criteria or one criterion. Here are some other tricky plurals of English words that come from Greek:
Cactus. The plural can be cacti or cactuses. Cactuses is more common in general writing, and cacti is more common in botanical writing.
Octopus. The plural can be octopuses, octopi, or octopodes. I recommend octopuses.
Trauma. The plural can be traumas or traumata. I recommend traumas.
For more on tricky classical plurals, see: "Author Bitten By Multiple Octopuses," "Phoni Latin Plurals," "Trump's 'Apprenti': The Return of the Bogus Latin Plural," and "Between 'Us' and 'I': Getting Stuck on Plurals."