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There is a reason why certification is spelled differently from certificate: they do not always mean the same thing.

The word certificate often refers to a document:

  • recording a person’s birth, marriage or death. Example: The birth certificate he presented had been tampered with. [Oxford Advanced American Dictionary]
  • attesting a level of achievement in a course of study or training. Examples: He has a graduate certificate in information technology. She has a certificate in midwifery. [Learner’s Dictionary]
  • attesting ownership of a certain item. Example: The stock certificates are stored in the vault. [Random House Dictionary]

[Note: Certificate is a count noun, which means it can be counted and can have a plural form.]

The word certification means:

  • The act of making something official; the act of certifying something. Examples: We await the certification of the vote. She had to wait until her certification as a nurse before she could start her new job. [Note: Certification in this sense is a noncount noun, which means it is always singular, cannot be counted, and does not have a plural form.]
  • The official approval to do something professionally or legally. Examples: The certifications of nine nurses were revoked. The school offers scuba diving certification. She received her teaching certification last month. SolidWorks certifications can be used as a benchmark to measure your knowledge and competency with SolidWorks software. [Learner’s Dictionary, Oxford Advanced American Dictionary]  [Note: Certification in this sense is a count noun, which means it can be counted and can have a plural form.]

When can certification refer to a document?

  • In law: certification refers to the document attesting to the truth of a fact or statement, such as an affidavit or verification [Collins Dictionary, Random House Dictionary]
  • Practice of a profession: Oxford Dictionary, which is descriptivist, mentions the use of certification to refer to a document allowing a person to practice a profession.

Photo credit: Bernard Goldberg

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2 thoughts on “Certificate vs. Certification

  1. Mam, I have just recevd an ofc order w/c state…a Sr. Engineer of Dinagat DPP “is hereby assigned in CON-CURRENT CAPACITY as Acting Plant In Charge of Loreto DPP “…Ibig sabihin dalawang planta dadalhin nya?

  2. Hi, Nicolas! Yes, it sounds from what you quoted that the Sr. Engineer will exercise two functions at the same time (concurrent): as Sr. Engineer of Dinagat and as Acting PIC or Loreto. The adjective “concurrent” means “existing, happening, or done at the same time.” Pero acting lang naman ‘young sa Loreto, kaya limited din ang assignment niya doon.

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