Data “is” or Data “are”
Is data singular or plural? An argument for data “is”.
I decided as part of my New Year’s resolutions to write a blog post here once a week, with one bye week per month to work on other projects. To get myself writing again, I picked a few easy topics (like this one) to kick off January.
Data “is” versus data “are” was somewhat of a contentious issue in the last few years but it seems that most of the “data scientists” have settled on using data “are” and I still do a double take every time I come across this usage.
I understand that “data” was technically the plural form of “datum”. But, the usage of “datum” as the singular form of “data” is currently obsolete. We can have “an engineering datum” or “a geodetic datum”, but the plural form of “datum” in these examples is “datums” and not “data”.
When used in the context of what we usually mean by “data”, what would “a datum” be and what would “two data” be? I would argue that there are no such things.
“Data” is now synonymous with “information”, which is uncountable. There is no plural form of “information” in English and “an information” is also incorrect usage. Shouldn’t “data” should work the same way?
- “I have a piece of information.” -> “I have a piece of data.”
- “The information is not correct.” -> “The data is not correct.”
I’m sticking with data “is”.