hello everyone!

I'm a newly registered member, and I hope you don't mind if I ask a potentially silly question. Most grammar textbooks that I come accross say that the word 'data' is plural. There are other books however, ehich say that it's gaining acceptance in the singular.

Which ine is it? Or can I run to context for that?

Many thanks!

"Data" was originally the plural form of the Latin word "datum" but now it is used as an uncountable noun. So you can use it either way. If you use it as a plural noun you have to say "the data are", and if you use it as an uncountable noun you should say "the data is".

I surveyed by Goole search in what way people actually use it. The data is/are as follows;
(1)"Your Emotion: computer data is at risk...":21,900 hits "Your Emotion: computer data are at risk...": 10 hits
(2)"The data is obtained by....":698 hits "The data are obtained by.....":689 hits
The first phrases belong to everyday's language and the second ones do to formal (academic) language. So I guess most people use "the data is" in speaking but still now about 50 % of people use "the data are" when they write formal documents.

A single item, e.g. '123.79 oysters/year', is still best referred to as a 'datum', as in 'This datum does not fit the graph'-- however, I have a feeling that this is being rapidly replaced by a counter for the uncountable: 'a piece/item of data'. 'This piece of data does not fit the graph'.

A word of caution lest we think 'datum' is disappearing, though-- google produces over ten million hits.
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