I'm writing up specs for a website with learning materials for our alpha testers to comment on. Among others, I'm describing the rating system: the materials can be rated (...) several criteria (such as usefulness, quality), e.g. by giving 3 stars for usefulness and 5 for quality.

Is "according to" the only proper way to link "rate" and "criteria" in this case? Can we rate by quality? rate on quality? 'rate in quality'?

I would usually just say 'rate the quality', without a preposition or anything, but I can't really use that in a passive sentence about the materials, and I know that even if I change this specific sentence into an active one, I'll need the passive at some point as well...

(please note that I mean the act of rating (ie. giving stars or votes or whatever), not the act of sorting things by their ratings - which is I suspect why the 'by' and 'according to' options don't sound right to me)

  • I don't think any of those prepositions are right. Rate the quality conveys exactly what you want. And I don't see the problem with the passive:"The quality can be rated". You could also say "rate in terms of quality". Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 11:26
  • What I meant by the passive was using "material" as the object: "The material can be rated ... quality". "in terms of" sounds like it might work...
    – Alicja Z
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 11:35
  • Oh,I see. Well, "for quality" would work too. Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 11:45
  • I think in your context you are using criteria to rate, so I would use "using" to join the words; rating using the criteria.
    – Polymath
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


The most obvious rewording that fixes this issue is:

The material's quality can be rated.

But if you want to keep your original form, the best preposition would be:

The material can be rated for quality.

Relevant NGram data for "rated * quality" show that "for" beats out "on" and "by" by significant margins.

  • Thanks - didn't think of "for", it does seem to fit my needs the best.
    – Alicja Z
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 17:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.