Word Choice – Data: Singular or Plural

BizWritingTip reader: “What is the rule for ‘data’? Some of our consultants use singular, and some use plural verbs with it. I use the singular verb myself!”

BizWritingTip response: “Data” is the plural of the Latin word “datum,” meaning “given.”

You would think then that “data” would fall into the standard rule for subject and verb agreement. (If the subject is plural, use a plural verb. If the subject is singular, use a singular verb.)

But …
In general usage, “data” when used in the sense of “information” is followed by a singular verb.

Example

The data is analyzed by our staff. (information)

But …
When you are using “data” in the sense of “separate bits of information,” use a plural verb.

Example

The data collected at several sites are now being compared with our earlier findings. (Several pieces of information)

But …
In scientific and technical usage, the noun “data” is commonly followed by a plural verb.

Therefore, to answer your question, you both may be right.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *