Tag Archives: singular or plural

Top 10 grammar myths: data is plural so must take a plural verb

Data is a Latin plural with a singular datum though datum is seldom used on its own any more. The Macquarie Dictionary says: ‘The connection between data the plural and datum the singular has been almost completely broken, so that while datum survives in such compounds as datum point, it does not have the frequency of use that data has.

But should data be singular or plural?

Many writers, knowing its Latin origins, insist that data must take a plural verb.

The data were analysed after they were collected.
rather than
The data was analysed after it was collected.

Both usages exist today, but often the distinction will be made based on whether you are treating data as a count or noncount noun (also known as a mass noun).

When data is a count noun (items that can be counted), the plural makes sense.

The data used were out of date.

In that type of sentence, you could replace data with another count noun such as ‘facts’.

However, when data is treated as a noncount noun (items cannot be counted), the singular makes sense.

The data used was out of date.

With that type of sentence, you could replace data with a word such as ‘information’.

 

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Top 10 grammar myths: none always takes a singular verb

None can take either a singular or plural verb. A common misconception is that none is always singular because it is short for no one. However, it is just as likely to mean not any, implying a plural. Singular usage When none is followed by a mass noun (a noun that cannot be counted orContinue Reading

Top 10 grammar tips: company names – singular or plural?

A company name is a collective noun (describing a group rather than an individual) and in Australian and New Zealand English company names always take a singular verb. Company A has launched a new campaign. Company B is working on a new product. That is straightforward. Problems arise when writers want to start the nextContinue Reading

 
 

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