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Is there a difference between the words evaluate and rate? For example, does a boss evaluate or rate one's work?

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To rate a performance is to estimate the value of something on some quality scale.

e.g.

Rate this from 1 to 10.

We were rated the third-best of the presenters.

He rates as one of the best journalists in town.

That website rated the movie with a very low score.


To evaluate is to undergo a process of reviewing something, testing things and judgement to see a thing's worth, quality, or significance.

You will be evaluated on your skills on the exam.

The teacher evaluated the students' work and surprisingly, he failed three students on the assignment.

We are waiting for Luke to evaluate their performance to see how they're doing.

They are evaluating our paper to find out just how ground-breaking our discovery was.

The output of the evaluation doesn't have to be a rating or score; it could be comments on how to improve something as well!

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In this situation, they are pretty much interchangeable. Here are the nuances:

to rate

This verb has neutral formality, I could see this being used in casual contexts and formal papers alike. The underlying "quality" exists on a scale of ratings. Ratings are orderable: For any two different ratings X and Y, either X is greater than Y, or X is less than Y.

In the United States, films are rated G, PG, PG13, R, in terms of audience maturity

In finance, bonds are given AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB etc. ratings for how likely the borrower will pay the money back.

to evaluate

This verb is more formal. For example, you can casually say

My fashion magazine rates this season's outfits as "hot or not"

but it would be out of place to use "evaluates" here.

Also, the underlying "quality" is not necessarily on a scale. Evaluations can be non orderable. For example, you could say

In our evaluation of employee A's performance, we found him to be uncooperative and slow to respond to emails

In our evaluation of employee B's performance, we found him to be very productive but unethical

It isn't clear which evaluation is "better".

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He/She can do both.

Evaluate is used for things.
Rate is used for things or people.

1.— The boss evaluated the results.
2.— The boss rated your performance.

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    I can't find any such distinction in any major dictionary. The annual employee evaluation is a much-dreaded and much joked-about topic in American corporate culture, and if anything, to rate employees sounds much harsher and hierarchical to my ears than to evaluate them. – choster Dec 9 '15 at 1:17

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