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data is/are

English translation: Both are correct

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:data is/are
English translation:Both are correct
Entered by: xxxIanW
Options:
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11:41 Jul 2, 2003
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
English term or phrase: data is/are
I would have thought this question has been asked before, but I can\'t find it, so please forgive me if it has.

I\'ve always used the word \"data\" in the plural and presumed this was correct - \"data are\" is correct, \"data is\" is not correct (although very common).

However, recently I\'ve been getting the feeling that I\'m in the minority. So, my question is - am I right, am I being overly pedantic or is it a question of taste? I\'d be very interested in any opinions or comments.

Thanks - Ian
xxxIanW
Local time: 04:31
Both are correct
Explanation:
depending on context, IMO, and also according to Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, and I quote:
"When referring to collected information, especially in electronic form, DATA is increasingly used as a singular noun, as a unified concept is often intended. "The data is entered from the forms by a keyboarder". When the composite nature of the information is important, the plural is often used: "As more data accumulate, it may turn out that there are differences; The data were easily converted into numerical form". However, in these examples, the singular is also possible thus: "As more data accumulates...., The data was easily converted....". So I hope this helps.

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Note added at 2003-07-02 12:13:48 (GMT)
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If I can avoid it, I often do, by writing e.g. \"Data may be....\", so you need not pluralise the verb.
Selected response from:

David Moore
Local time: 04:31
Grading comment
Thanks to everyone for your contributions - I'll give the points to David, as I thought his was the best explanation. Thanks, David!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +7Both are correctDavid Moore
5 +5are/is
Gayle Wallimann
5 +2is
Marijke Singer
3 +4is
jerrie
4 +1data is/areCatherine Norton
5are/is
Сергей Лузан
3 +1An example...MatthewS


  

Answers


3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +4
is


Explanation:
I would definitely say 'data is collected'...whether it is grammatically correct or not does not come into it, for me.
This is the way I would say it!

jerrie
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:31
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 773

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  airmailrpl
4 mins

agree  Enza Longo: I always use it in the singular as well but I think Americans use the plural more commonly
5 mins

agree  Andrea Ali: According to Webster's, singular
8 mins

disagree  Arcoiris: the word "data" is a plural and should go with "are". The fact that people use it commonly does not make it correctmake it
11 mins

agree  Tina8
20 mins

agree  arcticwolf
9 hrs
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19 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
is


Explanation:
I would have put an agree to Jerrie's answer but there isn't enough space.

I found the Ask Oxford website very useful for this type of question:

http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutgrammar/data...

Is 'data' singular or plural?
Strictly speaking, data is the plural of datum, and should be used with a plural verb (like facts). However, there has been a growing tendency to use it as an equivalent to the uncountable noun information, followed by a singular verb. This is now regarded as generally acceptable in American use, and in the context of information technology. The traditional usage is still preferable, at least in Britain, but it may soon become a lost cause.

Marijke Singer
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:31
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in pair: 72

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Marie Scarano
10 mins

agree  Magdalena_
40 mins
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28 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +5
are/is


Explanation:
Ian, you are correct, but so is everyone else that uses it as a singular noun. Webster's Dictionary says:

"Latin, pl. of datum ; see datum.]
Usage Note: The word data is the plural of Latin datum, "something given," but it is not always treated as a plural noun in English. The plural usage is still common, as this headline from the New York Times attests: "Data Are Elusive on the Homeless." Sometimes scientists think of data as plural, as in These data do not support the conclusions. But more often scientists and researchers think of data as a singular mass entity like information, and most people now follow this in general usage. Sixty percent of the Usage Panel accepts the use of data with a singular verb and pronoun in the sentence Once the data is in, we can begin to analyze it. A still larger number, 77 percent, accepts the sentence We have very little data on the efficacy of such programs, where the quantifier very little, which is not used with similar plural nouns such as facts and results, implies that data here is indeed singular."

I myself would use a singular verb with data, and it does sound strange to me with a plural verb, however, it is technically correct to use a plural verb.


    Reference: http://www.yourdictionary.com/
Gayle Wallimann
Local time: 04:31
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 172

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  DGK T-I
13 mins

agree  Joanne Panteleon
27 mins

agree  Magdalena_
32 mins

agree  verbis
52 mins

agree  J. Leo
1 day1 hr
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29 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +7
Both are correct


Explanation:
depending on context, IMO, and also according to Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, and I quote:
"When referring to collected information, especially in electronic form, DATA is increasingly used as a singular noun, as a unified concept is often intended. "The data is entered from the forms by a keyboarder". When the composite nature of the information is important, the plural is often used: "As more data accumulate, it may turn out that there are differences; The data were easily converted into numerical form". However, in these examples, the singular is also possible thus: "As more data accumulates...., The data was easily converted....". So I hope this helps.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-07-02 12:13:48 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

If I can avoid it, I often do, by writing e.g. \"Data may be....\", so you need not pluralise the verb.

David Moore
Local time: 04:31
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 864
Grading comment
Thanks to everyone for your contributions - I'll give the points to David, as I thought his was the best explanation. Thanks, David!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  DGK T-I: although of course 'several sources of data are...'
13 mins

agree  Magdalena_
31 mins

agree  verbis
51 mins

agree  Nancy Arrowsmith
57 mins

agree  MatthewS
1 hr

agree  PCovs: Oxford ALD: [U or pl] regarding facts and information in a discussion or decision process; [usu sing] information prepared for or stored by a computer.
2 hrs

agree  AhmedAMS
34 days
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
An example...


Explanation:
I agree with David on this one, but wanted to put an example up. If you consider something like measurement of spectra, you can see why data needs to be both plural and singular. Although a spectrum is continuous, and therefore a single piece of data, when measured it is actually a set of frequency/intensity pairs. When you talk about a data point (which I guess corresponds to the antiquated datum), you would be referring to a single frequency/intensity pair within a spectrum. The data of a single spectrum would be used in the singular, and data from multiple spectra would be used in the plural.

E.g.

XPS spectroscopy data was analysed (indicating that a single spectrum was analysed).

XPS spectroscopy data from A et al and B et al were compared (where you have two spectra).



MatthewS
Japan
Local time: 11:31
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 28

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  DGK T-I
7 hrs
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
are/is


Explanation:
1. facts, things certainly known - with "are", 2. information prepared & used in a computer program "is". Good luck, Ian Winick!
Re.: 8. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English by A. S. Hornby ISBN 0 19 431101 5

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Note added at 2003-07-02 14:13:09 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

data usually with sing verb
Re.: Collins German Dictionary, ISBN 0-00-470406-1

Сергей Лузан
Russian Federation
Local time: 05:31
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian
PRO pts in pair: 49
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
data is/are


Explanation:
"Datum" and "data" are hangovers from a time when all scientific and religious lore was written in Latin. What many people don't realize is that it is only within the last hundred years that Latin has ceased to be the major language of all instruction.
Consequently, those persons whose education is based on subjects which were most latinized adhere more closely to the latinized forms of words such as "datum" and "data".

However, language can't and won't be legislated. Common usage eventually prevails. Right now we are at a point where "data" as plural is in conflict with it as singular. Who knows which version will eventually prevail?

Personally, I use "data" as plural and, believe it or not, "datum" as the singular.

However I choose to look the other way when I see "data" used in the singular.

Catherine Norton
Local time: 19:31
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  AnaBlyth
16 hrs
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