Re: *Data* question

Subject: Re: *Data* question
From: Liz Bohn <Lbohn -at- UCSD -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 10:33:24 -0700

At 5:48 PM 8/30/95, Grant Hogarth wrote:
>--- Deborah Wood asks:

>> Which phrase do y*all prefer? Are any grammatically incorrect?
>> 1) This data helps the analyst.
>> 2) These data help the analyst.
>> 3) The data helps the analyst.
>> 4) The data help the analyst.

>Data, despite its frequent misuse, is a plural noun. (sing. datum)
>(unless, of course, you are referring to Lt. Cmd. Data of NCC-1701D <g>)

Two points here:

1) Use of data as a collective singular noun has gained wide acceptance in
most arenas (Strunk and White grudgingly admit this; as well as the
Webster's Electronic Dictionary, which states, "Today, DATA is used in
English both as a plural noun meaning " facts or pieces of information "
(These data are described fully on page 8) and as a singular mass noun
meaning " information ": The data has been entered in the computer."

2) The word comes from the Latin, "datum," which is a neuter noun. (In
Latin, there are 3 genders of nouns: masculine, feminine, and netuer) In
Latin, neuter plural nouns always take a singular verb.

Liz Bohn "Suddenly Christopher Robin began to tell Pooh
Lbohn -at- ucsd -dot- edu about... people called Kings and Queens and some-
thing called Factors, ... and how you make a
Suction Pump (if you want to)... And Pooh said
"Oh!" and "I didn't know," and thought how
wonderful it would be to have a Real Brain which
could tell you things."

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