Ask the Editor
Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor
The Difference Between 'Criticize' and 'Complain'
Thursday August 10th 2017
What is the difference between criticize and complain? — Suzuka, Japan

To criticize means to say that you disapprove of someone or something, or to talk about the problems or faults of someone or something. When you criticize something, you are saying what is wrong with it, or what you don't like about it. Below are some examples of how criticize is used.

  • He's always criticizing the service [=saying the service is bad] at nice restaurants.
  • You shouldn't criticize [=talk about the faults of] your children.
  • She was tired of being criticized by her older sister.
  • He criticized her looks so she dumped him.


To complain means to say that you are unhappy, sick, uncomfortable, etc. When you complain, you are saying that you feel negatively about something. Below are some examples of how complain is used.

  • She always complained that it was too hot in the summer.
  • The guests complained to the hotel manager about the condition of their room. [=They said they were unhappy with the condition of their room.]
  • The kids were complaining (to each other) about how much homework they had to do.
  • He complained of a headache last night and today he's got a fever.


Criticize puts more attention on the thing being criticized. Complain puts more attention on the person complaining. When you criticize something, you're saying "Here's what's wrong with it," but when you complain you're saying "I'm not happy about this."


I hope this helps. For more posts about words and usage, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!