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Is data countable or uncountable? Singular or plural?

Can you identify incorrect use of the word data in two of the sentences below?

1 After comparing the data from the two countries, this study concludes that there are significant differences which cannot be explained only by the cost of living. 

2 The team collected many datas in order to understand the impact of the elections. 

3 Much of the data collected for the study had to be discarded as it was found to be unreliable. 

4 Despite government restrictions on distribution of statistical information, a data was found.

Data follows the basic rules of uncountable nouns (see the sources below and the previous blog post on uncountable nouns). 

Thus, the following sentences are incorrect: 

2 Incorrect: The team collected many datas in order to understand the impact of the elections. 

Correct: The team collected a lot of data in order to understand the impact of the elections. 

4 Incorrect: Despite government restrictions on distribution of statistical information, a data was found. 

Correct: Despite government restrictions on distribution of statistical information, data/some data/a small amount of data/a piece of data was found.

Is data singular or plural? 

Nowadays, data tends to be used with a singular verb but can also be used with a plural verb (there are historical reasons explained in the link below). 

Consistency is very important in academic English. It is thus best to choose either the singular or plural form and stay with it in all your academic writing.

How is data pronounced?

There are two ways to pronounce data. Both the Oxford and Cambridge online dictionaries have a feature to listen to the pronunciation of words.

Sources:  Cambridge Online Dictionary; Oxford Online Dictionary


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Pamela Cotte

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