Curriculum vs. Curricula

Okay, so I know this is horribly pedantic and rude and awful and miserable and awful of me…. but for the love of all that is holy and good, homeschoolers, please learn the difference between curriculum and curricula, because so many of you are doing this wrong.

Curriculum is the singular. Like datum, millennium, memorandum, and stadium. The plurals are curricula, data, millennia, memoranda, and … okay, no one says stadia. I suppose only really picky people say datum anymore, either. Memorandum was shortened to memo with the plural memos. But we still use millennium and millennia. No one says, “I’ve visited 24 different baseball stadium”, because they know stadium is singular.

The dictionary recognizes curriculums as an okay plural. I don’t prefer it, but it follows the standard way to make plurals in English. We don’t speak Latin, even if many of our words have roots in that language. Fine. But when you use curriculum as a plural and curricula as singular, you make my head hurt just as much as if you switch plural and singular for any other word.

Try these sentences:

  • “I’m going to go buy some new curriculum.”
  • “I’m going to go buy some new book.”

Or these:

  • “This is a great curricula!”
  • “This is a great books!”

It hurts, just a little bit, doesn’t it?

Now, curriculum can mean an entire course of study, so it can mean an entire plan of dozens of books and subjects. So you could be going out to buy just one curriculum for your kid to use this year. There are plenty of companies that release all-in-one curricula for people to use. But the way I know if you’re using the words as a singular or a plural is if you’re using an article (a, an, the) or singular pronouns (this) or not.

  • “I really love curriculum” compared to “I really love this curriculum”.
  • “I really love book” compared to “I really love this book”.

So, please, for my sake… get your plurals and singulars straight. I beg you!

Note: People make mistakes. I know I do. I miss having a Real Live Editor to fix all of my mistakes. But as I point out above, I don’t think it’s a typo so much as a large number of people who are unaware of this at all. So I try to help. Annoyingly. Without being asked. Because I care.

3 thoughts on “Curriculum vs. Curricula”

  1. So this argument intrigues me, as the definition of “curriculum” (singular) is a list of courses taught or offered, though typically by a school. In the realm of homeschooling, the “school” does not offer (typically) multiple options with regard to plans of study, so differentiating between the curriculum the “history department” offers vs. the curricula of the entire school is not exactly clear with regard to this term. I also do not think you could substitute “book” or “books” to clarify usage as, again, the definition is a list of more than one thing. Personally, I only have one child I am homeschooling, so would you consider her entire school career list “curricula,” or since it is THE course of study “curriculum?” Would a homeschooler who uses a box program like Sonlight be using a “curriculum,” while someone who pieces more than one product together on their own be using “curricula?” What do you consider the differentiation points? By the by, I am not trying to be an annoyance here, but I have always enjoyed pondering these difficult word-usage issues. My husband and I frequently discuss concepts like data and metadata, as that is his field of expertise (as well as all the horrendous new labels that have been created for ease of use frequently in speech – like “bang” for “exclamation point”). I really am interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

  2. OK…to the “annoying” (you said it not me) person who acts like she cares about HOMESCHOOLERS using the “proper” term (curricula vs curriculum, blah, blah , blah). Oh lady, I’ve met hundreds the likes of you in my position as educator for thirty-two school districts. I’ve chewed and spit them out BEFORE breakfast. Whereas, you may be correct in your termonology, in people skills YOU LACK
    THE FUNDAMENTALS. You took the time to write, because you care. That’s nice, but nobody asked you.

    Honestly, I also took the time to expose people like yourself. Like my mother always said, “No tienes que ir a Francia para conocer a los Franceses.” And yes, I am an American of Hispanic ethnicity. I can read, speak, and write in English and correct Spanish…and I’ve written extensive curriculum in both languages.

  3. Ok, I’m exposed? As.. what I said I was? I’m not sure what your point is?

    It’s my blog. I posted a thing about something that annoyed me. That’s what blogs are for. To, you know, say stuff. And split infinitives.

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