I wrote:

If the user intends to extract specific/certain data, she must first create an appropriate pattern for this purpose and mark it for data extraction ("Extract Data" checkbox in the form shown in Figure 4).

What is the difference and usage of "specific" and "certain"? Which should I use in my sentence?

2 Answers 2


In this context, "specific" is better than "certain". In order to choose the data, the user "specifies" which data she wants by creating "an appropriate pattern for this purpose".

In this context, "certain" is not as appropriate as "specific", because the user does not necessarily know that any data will match her specification, let alone which pieces of data will match her specification.

In this context, "particular" would also be a good choice.


The use of specific would be more precise than the use of certain. If you have many points, and only use a few, use specific. Many points and use more than ~20% use certain. It is just a style thing.

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