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Determine vs. Deem: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
Determine means to officially decide something; deem means to consider or judge.

Key Differences

"Determine" is a verb that often implies a process of investigation or analysis to reach a definitive conclusion. When we determine something, we are often engaging in a methodical process to ascertain the facts or truth of a matter. "Deem," on the other hand, is a verb that suggests a judgment or opinion that is based on one's own criteria or standards. When we deem something to be true, we are making a subjective judgment that may not require the same level of rigorous proof as determining.
In the context of decision-making, "determine" usually refers to a decision reached after careful consideration and examination of evidence. For example, a judge might determine the outcome of a case after looking at all the evidence. "Deem" is more about personal discernment and may not involve a thorough process; it's about what someone considers to be the case. If the same judge deems a piece of evidence to be irrelevant, this is based on their personal assessment rather than a formal process.
When it comes to usage, "determine" often involves an element of discovery or finality. It could involve a series of steps or a calculation, like a scientist determining a measurement based on data. "Deem" is more instantaneous and can be more speculative or opinion-based, such as an art critic deeming a painting to be a masterpiece based on their personal taste and experience in the field.
In legal or formal contexts, "determine" carries the weight of authoritative decision-making. For example, a regulatory body may determine whether a new drug is safe for public use based on clinical trials. "Deem," in such formal settings, can still retain a sense of subjectivity; a government may deem it necessary to enact a law based on what is perceived to be in the public interest, which might not be universally agreed upon.
"Determine" is often used when outcomes are directly influenced by the results of an investigation or set criteria, such as a researcher determining a cause-and-effect relationship through experimentation. "Deem," conversely, can imply an acceptance of a state or condition based on one's belief or judgment, like an investor deeming a market volatile based on their experience, even if the latest data has not been fully analyzed.

Comparison Chart


To conclude or ascertain after consideration of evidence.
To judge or consider in a specific way.

Usage in Sentence

Often follows phrases like 'set out to' or 'aim to'.
Usually comes before the object of judgment.


More formal, used in official decisions.
Less formal, often used in personal opinions.


Involves a process of decision-making.
Involves a process of personal judgment or belief.


Often results in a resolution or action.
Results in an opinion or perspective, not necessarily action.

Determine and Deem Definitions


To establish the exact limits or information of something.
The scientists aim to determine the age of the fossil.


To have a specific opinion about someone or something.
She deemed the changes necessary.


To be the cause or decisive factor in.
Your grades will determine your eligibility for the scholarship.


To judge or consider something in a particular way.
He deemed it wise to wait before making a decision.


To decide or conclude through reasoning or observation.
The jury will determine the verdict after deliberations.


To regard or consider in a specified way.
The act was deemed illegal by the authorities.


To settle or decide by an authoritative decision.
The court will determine the case today.


To come to think or judge.
I deem that the evidence is sufficient for conviction.


To come to a decision or resolution.
He determined to start his own business.


To hold as a belief or opinion.
The project was deemed a success by the team.


To establish or ascertain definitely, as after consideration, investigation, or calculation
Determined the easiest way to reach the summit.


To regard as; consider
Deemed the results unsatisfactory. See Usage Note at as1.


To give direction to by making decisions; devise or control
The school board determines educational policy.


To suppose or believe
"making little improvements which she deemed that he would value when she was gone" (Thomas Hardy).


To decide or settle (a dispute, for example) conclusively and authoritatively.


Is 'deem' a formal term?

Deem is less formal than 'determine' and more about personal judgment.

Can 'determine' be used in a legal context?

Yes, 'determine' is often used to describe legal decisions.

Could you give an example of 'deem' in a sentence?

Example: "She deemed the film to be the best of the year."

What is the noun form of 'deem'?

There is no direct noun form of 'deem'; the concept is expressed as 'judgment' or 'opinion.'

How is 'determine' used in a sentence?

Example: "The study aims to determine the cause of the changes."

What does 'determine' mean?

Determine means to make a formal decision or conclusion based on facts.

What does 'deem' mean?

Deem means to have a particular opinion or belief about something.

Is 'determine' always definitive?

Determine usually indicates a definitive conclusion.

Can 'determine' suggest causality?

Yes, 'determine' can imply that something causes another.

Is 'deem' subjective?

Yes, 'deem' is based on personal views or beliefs.

Can 'determine' refer to finding out information?

Yes, 'determine' can involve discovering information.

Are 'determine' and 'deem' interchangeable?

No, they are not interchangeable due to differences in formality and meaning.

Does 'deem' require evidence?

Deeming something does not always require concrete evidence.

What is the noun form of 'determine'?

Determination is the noun form of 'determine.'

What part of speech is 'determine'?

'Determine' is a verb.

Does 'deem' imply a final decision?

Not necessarily; 'deem' can express an opinion that may change.

Can 'determine' relate to measurement?

Yes, 'determine' can mean to measure or calculate something precisely.

Can 'determine' be used without an object?

Yes, e.g., "He determined to change his routine."

Can 'deem' be used without an object?

No, 'deem' requires an object or complement.

What part of speech is 'deem'?

'Deem' is a verb.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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