Grammar Crisis or Crises: What’s the Difference, and Which One Do You Need? |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Crisis or Crises: What’s the Difference, and Which One Do You Need?

Both crisis and crises are correct and acceptable words to use in American English, but they also differ slightly in meaning. Today we’ll explain the difference and ensure you know which one to use in the right context.

Crises Is the Plural of Crisis

The word crisis is defined as “a tragedy or negative event.” A crisis can be political, social, financial, or even related to the weather or environment. That’s why you might hear news about a mudslide, an economic collapse, or a riot described as a crisis.

When we are writing or speaking about more than one crisis, we need to use the plural form of the word, crises.

To help illustrate the difference between the two, let’s look at a few sample sentences:

The country’s economy has been on a slow path to recovery ever since the latest currency crisis.

Civil war in the region has led to a humanitarian crisis involving thousands of refugees.

The small island has endured several crises, including an earthquake and the corruption of government.

As you can see, crises is simply the word we use when describing more than one crisis.

Why Crisis vs. Crises Can Be Confusing

If you weren’t aware of this distinction, or if you feel confused by it, you aren’t alone. The word crises isn’t used frequently in everyday language (although you might hear it somewhat often on the news).

Some people might also struggle with the word crises because its root word, crisis, ends with an “s.” That letter is added to most English words that are derived from Greek when we want to make them plural. For example, orange becomes oranges.

For that reason, some readers and writers may struggle with how to pluralize words that already end with “s.” This is one area of English vocabulary in which mastery is simply a matter of familiarity through repeated exposure to the words.

Pop Quiz

Choose the correct use of crisis or crises in each sentence.

1. Paul considered leaving the seminary when he had a [crisis / crises] of faith.

2. One important role for the government is to prepare for [crisis / crises] that may occur in the future.

3. Climate change could eventually lead to a food [crisis / crises] even in the developed world.

4. Losing teachers might not seem like a [crisis / crises] today, but the long-term social and economic effects would be terrible.

5. I never knew how many [crisis / crises] there were around the world until I started working in journalism.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. Paul considered leaving the seminary when he had a crisis of faith.

2. One important role for the government is to prepare for crises that may occur in the future.

3. Climate change could eventually lead to a food crisis even in the developed world.

4. Losing teachers might not seem like a crisis today, but the long-term social and economic effects would be terrible.

5. I never knew how many crises there were around the world until I started working in journalism.

Need Specific Grammar Answers?

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