Monday, February 27, 2012

Data Is or Data Are?

So yeah, I was reading about the publication of the NYC teachers' student-test-score data and I saw the phrase "the data were."

Now, I know that data is the Latin plural for datum. But in modern use in English, I don't see it used in a typical plural sense - that of "many datum(s)." Like "many facts" would be the same. Rather, it's used as a general collective, more like the word "information." You know there's a bunch of stuff there, but it's still all kind of one THING. And as a result, I'm much more comfortable with hearing "data is" than "data are."

Readers, what do you think?

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Philip said...

I prefer "data is," as in "the data NYC is using is pointless and unreliable."

What a nightmare.

Knighton said...

I like it as a collective noun, too. We had a professor in college who blasted us for using it with a singular verb, though.

Philip said...

Once again, I prefer "data is," but just came across "All of the data suggest how powerful reading transforms..."

Same thing I guess. Anyway, I thought about this post.

Clix said...

NO THAT IS SO WRONG! In that case, the subject is "All," which is an indefinite pronoun and uses a singular verb. :P

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