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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 17th, 2010, 04:06 am
Oden's Avatar
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Default data [singular or plural?]

Hello Sue,

Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary
Quote:
data

Meaning:
1 [plural] : facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something
- She spent hours reviewing the data from the experiment.
- They made their decisions based on the survey data.
- Much of the data is inconclusive.
- The company has access to your personal data.

usage
Data is plural in form but is used with both plural and singular verbs.
- Is this data accurate?
- Are these data reliable?
When used with plural verbs, data is thought of as the plural form of the noun "datum". It is usually used with plural verbs only in formal or technical writing.
- Many of these data are incorrect.

2 [noncount] : information that is produced or stored by a computer
- She works as a data entry clerk.
- There was too much data for the computer to process.
- He is an expert in data retrieval. [=finding information stored on a computer]
Description of Data Formats Supported by BioIDE
Quote:
Illumina Format

Currently the matrix format produced by Illumina BeadStudio is supported. In this format, all data are stored in a single file as a two-dimensional matrix. After a few header lines, the individual IDs are listed on a single line separated by tab. After that line, genotype data for each marker is organized as one line per marker with the marker IDs (rs#) as the first column. For each individual on each marker, the genotype represented by two alleles is separated from its quality score by a vertical divider.
I think that data is an uncountable noun and means "information that is produced or stored by a computer." Shouldn't are have been "is"?

Last edited by Oden : Nov 18th, 2010 at 05:15 am.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 17th, 2010, 01:07 pm
Sue
 
Join Date: Oct 8th, 2006
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Default Re: date [singular or plural?]

The problem is that it's a Latin word, and in Latin it's plural : sing datum, pl. data

Data has been incorporated into English, but of course is not recognisable as a plural (unless you know Latin). So people tend to use it in the same way as "information" (ie as an uncountable), because of the similarity of meaning:

The information/data is unreliable.

However, because it is originally a countable plural, other people (especially those who know Latin) use it that way :

The data are unreliable.

This is slightly less common, but only slightly. A Google battle turned up the following results :

data is : 2,110,000,000
data are : 1,900,000,000

So in short, you can use it either way. But if the person you're talking to is a Professor of Latin, you'll impress more by choosing the plural
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Unread Nov 18th, 2010, 05:28 am
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Default Re: date [singular or plural?]

Thank you, Sue.
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