Criticize vs critique

Difference between criticize, criticism, critique, critic, and critical – Espresso English

600+ Confusing English Words Explained E-book

Hello students! Today I want to teach you about the confusing words criticize, criticism, critique, critic, and critical. These are all similar and they come from the same roots, but they have different functions and some slightly different meanings.

The English language has a lot of words like this – words that are very similar, but actually different – and you can learn a lot more of them in my e-book, 600+ Confusing English Words Explained.


OK, let’s start with the word criticize. If you criticize something, you are identifying its faults or negative aspects. So if you say that a restaurant has bad food and slow service, you are criticizing it, you’re stating the bad things about it.


Criticize is a verb referring to the action of identifying faults. The noun form is criticism, referring to the statement or expression of faults. So you might say, “She criticized the restaurant. Her main criticism was about the poor quality of the food.” Note the pronunciation difference between criticize – it ends with the ize sound like in size – and criticism – it has the is sound like in his.


Now let’s look at the word critique – this word can be a verb or a noun, and it refers to evaluating and analyzing something, identifying both its good points and its bad points. So when you criticize something you just say negative things, but when you critique something you can say both positive things and negative things. We often critique books, art, movies… the judges on talent shows like cooking shows or singing shows will critique the performance of the cooks or singers.

Note the pronunciation differences: we had CRI-ti-cize, CRI-ti-ci-sm, and cri-TIQUE has the stress on the second syllable, plus the ee sound as in weak.


What about the word critic? This has the stress on the first syllable: CRI-tic. A critic is a person who judges or evaluates something. The people who write movie reviews are called movie critics. People who are critics perform the action of critiquing things (remember, critique means to identify both positive and negative aspects), but sometimes the word critic is also used to describe a person who only says negative things, a person who criticizes. There’s a saying, “Everyone’s a critic” – we often say this when people are criticizing (saying negative things about) something, even people who don’t really have much knowledge about the area.


And finally we have the word critical, which is an adjective, and it has two meanings. When you say a person is critical of something, it means the person is finding fault. For example, my boss is very critical of my work, he’s always making changes and corrections to it. But when you say a thing is critical, it means the thing is essential, it is necessary, it is very important. For example, honesty is critical to a good relationship.


So let’s review these confusing words:

  • criticize – a verb meaning to identify negative things;
  • criticism – a noun referring to the statement of negative things;
  • critique – a verb/noun referring to evaluating and identifying positive and negative points;
  • critic – a person who judges or evaluates, and sometimes a person who only finds negative points;
  • critical – two meanings: a person who tends to find fault, or a thing that is very important or essential

I know these words are complicated, but I hope I’ve helped make them a little clearer. For more lessons like this, I’d highly encourage you to get my e-book which will teach you more than 600 confusing English words.

Critique versus Criticize | MLA Style Center

Advice from the Editors

by Michael Kandel

Claire Kehrwald Cook, in her Line by Line, noted that critique as a verb “has not yet won full acceptance.” That was more than thirty years ago, and nowadays a great many scholarly writers use critique as a verb routinely and without blinking. But Cook also observed, though in passing, that the meaning of critique, “to give a critical examination of,” differs from that of criticize or review (174).

The difference is important. Merriam-Webster defines the noun critique as “a careful judgment in which you give your opinion about the good and bad parts of something (such as a piece of writing or a work of art)” but points out its overlap with criticism:

The overlap notwithstanding, here is a reasonable example of why maintaining a distinction matters: On the one hand, “The ballet instructor critiqued the dancer’s pirouette” could mean that the ballet dancer performed an excellent pirouette but that the teacher gave the dancer pointers to make it dazzling. On the other hand, “The reviewer criticized the dancer’s pirouette” means that the reviewer regarded the dancer’s performance unfavorably.

The formal prose required in scholarly writing can make writers hesitant to use simple, down-to-earth words, lest their authority appear questionable. But the preference for critique in academic writing often erases the valuable difference between the two words.

Works Cited

Cook, Claire Kehrwald. Line by Line: How to Improve Your Own Writing. Houghton Mifflin, 1985.

“Critique, N.”, 2016,

Filed Under: usage, word choice, writing tips

Michael Kandel

Michael Kandel edited publications at the MLA for twenty-one years. He also translated several Polish writers, among them Stanisław Lem, Andrzej Stasiuk, Marek Huberath, and Paweł Huelle, and edited, for Harcourt Brace, several American writers, among them Jonathan Lethem, Ursula K. Le Guin, James Morrow, and Patricia Anthony.

Published 17 October 2016

Criticism: what is it, how to criticize and perceive criticism correctly

. We deal with psychologists

Updated on October 28, 2022, 09:48


From the point of view of human development, criticism is an important element of communication that allows us to see and correct our mistakes, and therefore become better. However, almost no one likes to be criticized. The reason is that the line between good and bad criticism is very thin, it is quite easy to cross it. Often this is due to excessive emotions or personal dislike. But sometimes even the value judgments of others without any negative connotation can hurt. How to learn to criticize others correctly and to easily perceive sometimes not the most pleasant opinions from the outside? RBC Life offers an impartial look at the situation through the eyes of psychologists. nine0003


  1. What is it
  2. Types of criticism
  3. How to perceive
  4. How to criticize

What is criticism

Criticism is a tool that allows you to evaluate and analyze any phenomena from various areas of life. From the point of view of science, criticism is twofold: in its simplest form, it is either good or bad. For example, you can criticize from resentment, in order to hurt the opponent personally, or, conversely, to motivate a person to correct mistakes and improve himself. nine0003

Emotional reactions to criticism also differ [1]. Some people are offended, angry and hold a grudge for many years, others easily accept judgments addressed to them or do not notice them at all. The difference in perception depends on many things [2].

  • Type of criticism. It can be criticism that inspires or, on the contrary, humiliates and ridicules failures.
  • Experience. The more often a person experiences negative emotions, the more painfully he experiences each new episode. For example, if a child had very demanding parents, they may be vulnerable to negative feedback later on. nine0014
  • Relations. Depending on who criticizes, the reaction to what is said may vary. Mom, spouse, boss or subordinate - criticism from each of them will have its own power.
  • Individuality. Each person has his own character and psychological characteristics. Self-confident people respond more easily to criticism, but may shift the blame to others. More sensitive and emotional, on the contrary, experience more and tend to judge themselves too harshly in response to what is said. Some people almost do not react to criticism, at the same time, it is important for them to find out why there is an opinion about them and how it can be changed. nine0014

And these are not all factors. Moreover, the same person will perceive criticism differently depending on the context and situation. However, we all need constructive self-correction, and other people can help us with this. For example, the corporate culture actively uses the feedback method. On the one hand, this is the same criticism, that is, a person can be told something unpleasant or point out shortcomings, but there are differences. Feedback is always focused on the desired action, future-oriented, and focused on strengths rather than weaknesses. nine0003

Maria RazlogovaClinical psychologist at the Rassvet Clinic

“The problem is that often criticism does not refer to specific behavior - “you are doing it wrong now”, but to the person as a whole - “you are clumsy, lazy, mediocrity ...”. Such assessments do not help, but, on the contrary, reduce motivation. Useful criticism reflects not only mistakes, but also strengths. It is built on the principle of a sandwich: find something to praise - point out the problem - praise again.

Types of criticism


The balance of constructive and destructive criticism is important for a person

Criticism is diverse and largely depends on the angle at which you look at it. According to Elena Fiveyskaya, psychologist and coach at GMS Clinic, criticism can be divided into the following types.

  1. By effect: beneficial, destructive or mixed, which contains a useful argument, but supported by some misinformation. It is often found in philistine reviews.
  2. nine0013 In the form of presentation: explicit, with an open discussion of the minuses, as well as implicit, with a skeptical assessment.
  3. In the form of expression: remark, claim, objection, accusation or dissatisfaction.
  4. Self-criticism: an inner voice that condemns and compares against you.

In addition, they distinguish factual criticism, moral, aesthetic, logical, religious, liberal and others [3]. But most often you can hear about constructive and destructive criticism. They can both point to flaws and errors, but with important differences. nine0003

Constructive criticism

Constructive criticism is a way to provide useful feedback. It includes practical suggestions and focuses on a specific issue, rather than assessing the whole situation and the person personally. However, it can contain both positive and negative comments. But in general terms, it will be clear, concrete and effective. In teamwork, constructive criticism can increase motivation, improve work in general, and help achieve results. nine0003

The main features of constructive criticism:

  • Intention: motivation, helping a person to improve his work.
  • Areas: focuses on the shortcomings of the work.
  • Action: offers a solution to the problem and suggestions to improve the situation.

An example of constructive criticism: “I noticed that lately mistakes in your work have become frequent. If I've put too much on you, let me know so I can change the load. Glad to talk about it." nine0003

Destructive criticism

Destructive criticism is a kind of feedback in which the object is not the action, but the person himself. Such judgments, as opposed to constructive ones, do not improve the situation and do not help motivate the interlocutor or subordinate. Often destructive criticism is used to attack in case of personal dislike and is aimed at lowering someone's self-esteem. It is not of practical use and is perceived as excessive pickiness. In a work environment or at home, this is not the best tool to inspire employees or loved ones. nine0003

Main features of destructive criticism:

  • Intention: to harm, offend, offend.
  • Area: is focused on the person, not on his work.
  • Action: offers no solutions.

An example of destructive criticism: “There are mistakes in your report again. You're just not made for the job."

Elena FiveyskayaLeading specialist, psychologist, coach GMS Clinic

“If there were only such types of criticism as dissatisfaction or claims, I would be inclined towards the absence of its positive influence on the development of mankind. But if we are talking about such a form as an objection, remark, claim, this is an opportunity for growth. The remark does not sound very pleasant, but noticing an error or inaccuracy is the path to improvement. Through the claim, we can achieve an exchange and improvement of the work as a whole. This allows you to develop social communication skills. But in order to broadcast positive criticism, we need a resource. If it is not there, then it is easy to slip into discontent and accusations. ” nine0003

How to Handle Criticism Painlessly


Don't rush to respond to criticism right away. Give yourself time to analyze and understand what your interlocutor wants

It is impossible to completely avoid criticism from superiors or relatives, but there are ways to take it painlessly and respond correctly to comments. On the advice of psychologist Maria Razlogova, the following recommendations can be followed.

1. Take a break

nine0002 If you feel hurt by someone's comment, take a break. Mentally count to ten, take a few deep slow breaths and exhalations. It is normal during a personal conversation to ask for a pause from the interlocutor to think about what is happening. If you manage to let go of a spontaneous impulsive reaction, you are already well done.

2. Analyze what was said

When you have calmed down, you can analyze the received message. Remind yourself that this is only an estimate of another person who may be wrong, inaccurate, or generally distort reality to their advantage. Try to separate the wheat from the chaff and mentally formulate what you agree with the interlocutor and what you don’t. Think about the goals of your interlocutor. nine0003

Perhaps he did not want to offend you at all, but tried to help, albeit clumsily. If you haven't asked your interlocutor for feedback and received unsolicited advice, ask them not to do that again. If a person wants to help you, it makes sense to do so only with your permission or at your request.

3. Try to understand the essence and benefit

Perhaps the criticism came from a person who, due to his role in your life, must sometimes criticize you. For example, when it comes to a boss or a teacher. In this case, treat this feedback as a function within a business or study relationship. Try to extract from the criticism the content that can help you and discuss those aspects of it with which you disagree. nine0003

4. Don't be afraid to speak

If what you said hurt you, you can tell the other person about it. This will help to regulate your state, because voicing experiences reduces their intensity. In addition, it will help to establish emotional contact and mutual understanding, which can be important when talking with loved ones.

5. Improve yourself

If it is very difficult for you to accept criticism and you experience constant problems in connection with this, it makes sense to discuss this with a psychologist. You may need to learn emotion regulation skills or make changes to your social circle. nine0003

How to properly criticize


Constructive criticism of others and yourself is a skill to learn

Most people tend to perceive personal criticism as something negative, although this is not always the case. It's not easy to criticize without being offended.

On the advice of coach Elena Fiveyskaya, in order for criticism to be as effective as possible, it is worth following some important rules.

1. Listen to yourself

Before criticizing a person, decide what you want: to help another become better or to throw out your negative feelings. In the latter case, according to the expert, it is better to work with yourself and what is behind it - envy, internal dissatisfaction, an attempt to assert yourself.

2. Direct to action

Directing criticism at the person's actions rather than the person's personality: for example, saying not that the person is stupid, but that their work lacks scientific data. The most important thing to remember is that constructive criticism should be a dialogue between two people, not a monologue. You don't always know all the details that influenced a person's decisions or actions. nine0003

3. Show respect

Treat the criticized with respect, from the position of "adult-adult", that is, on an equal footing. Resist the temptation to go into the position of a "parent" (even if it is kind) and do it from top to bottom, for example, in a pointing and instructive tone.

4. Rate feedback

Assess the readiness and desire of the criticized for feedback. If he is not open to discussion, even the most constructive criticism can be unpleasant and affect his mood. In addition, any criticism should be timely. But this does not mean that it is necessary to point out an error at the moment when it has already occurred. Instead, it is about drawing the person's attention to the problem while they still have time to fix or prevent it. nine0003

5. Do not criticize in public

Do not drive yourself into a formal framework. For example, a conversation can be built in a relaxed atmosphere or you can call an employee for a face-to-face conversation. You also need to give the person the opportunity to explain why he did something this way and not otherwise. For his part, the one who criticizes must be sure that he really wants to understand the point of view of his interlocutor.


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Nadezhda Gurina

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Three Laws of Criticism

Criticism is good. The usefulness of criticism is to help people improve what they are responsible for. The designer is told “the interface is inconvenient”, he improves it, it turns out a user-friendly interface. The writer is told “you have a typo”, he corrects it, now there is no typo. Criticism makes the world a better place.

But there is a problem: sometimes criticism is hard to take because it is formulated as a personal insult. Such criticism does not achieve a useful effect; because of it, relationships and reputation deteriorate. nine0003

Follow the Three Laws of Criticism to achieve value, maintain relationships, and maintain your reputation.

The first law of criticism. If you don't like it, criticize it

Criticize whatever you don't like, regardless of whether someone else criticized it and whether you believe in the effectiveness of criticism.

The button in the Internet bank does not work - wrote to technical support
The text on the site is poorly worded - wrote to the author
The asphalt is bad in the yard - wrote to the city portal

If you are being ignored due to an important issue, do not hesitate to turn on the "client from hell" and make the brain responsible. It so happened that dispatchers, designers, presidents, programmers, writers and in general all of us now and then score on those who do not defend their position. If one person reports a problem, there is no problem. But if a hundred people are brainwashed by this problem every day, we will find a way to solve it.

Don't wait for the problem to resolve itself. Do not hope that someone else will tell you about the problem for you. Don't like it - criticize. nine0003

The second law of criticism. If you criticize - justify

For criticism to be useful, you need to explain what exactly you don’t like and why it’s bad:

The button is pressed, but nothing happens. I don't receive SMS, I can't pay.
It is not clear from the text what to do after the notification arrives. I didn't do anything and the payment didn't go through.
The asphalt in the yard was laid badly: solid holes. It is inconvenient to drive by car, and it is generally impossible to ride a bicycle. nine0003

Always criticize the work, but never the person. Don't try to hint that the person in charge is incompetent. This is not possible:

Do you use your own internet bank?
Did you hire students to write this text?
What, they sawed everything, and there wasn’t enough for asphalt? Come into our yard purely for the sake of interest, see the conditions in which your voters live.

Such criticism leads nowhere, because from the outside it looks arrogant. Since a living person perceives criticism, he will not want to respond to such criticism. Imagine, on your site they write: “What kind of idiot made this site?” nine0003

Criticism is hard to take: it means that the person in charge did a poor job. Don't make it worse with arrogant comments. You criticize - justify.

The third law of criticism. If you know, suggest

Designers, writers and developers read my blog. A good designer sees bad design around him and knows how to improve it. The same applies to the writer and developer:

The designer, unlike the average user, knows Fitts' law and that the interface is evil. The designer may suggest an improvement that the average user is unaware of. nine0003

The editor is well-read, studies international experience and understands how to write public announcements correctly. He will make a much more persuasive announcement than the average official or citizen.

The developer knows how to optimize animation and knows what 60 FPS is. Where the user sins on a slow computer, the developer is already optimizing the animation.

If you know how to improve what you are unhappy with, suggest an improvement. It doesn’t matter if it is correct or not, whether it will be implemented or not, whether you take into account some subtleties or not. If you know, please suggest. nine0003

Law in action

This is what non-constructive criticism with passive aggression looks like:

Have you seen the new site of Alfa-Bank? What a fierce f.

Learn more