Re: IS or ARE

Subject: Re: IS or ARE
From: Melissa Hunter-Kilmer <mhunterk -at- BNA -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 08:59:21 EST

On Thu, 29 May 1997 15:51:32, John Posada <jposada -at- NOTES -dot- CC -dot- BELLCORE -dot- COM> wrote:

> Is it:

> Real-time data "is" displayed... or Real-time data "are" displayed....

> I want to say "is", but data is a plural so should I use "are"?

And on that same illustrious date, "Tamminga, Ernie" <et -at- DSC -dot- COM> responded:

>I think the struggle over that one is just about over... "data" has
emerged as a collective noun. In the USA it sounds kind of archaic to
say "the data are collected..." (that would sound fine in Britain, where
collective nouns take the plural anyway...)

It is true that the word "data" is a plural noun. It is also true that
Americans mostly treat it as a singular or collective noun.

The funny thing is that it's Latin neuter plural, which in Latin takes a
singular verb. So if you say "data is," you're really going back to the source.

I said this a few months ago on the list, but you know how it is -- we go in
cycles with stuff.

> Much to my dismay, a parallel thing seems to be happening with
"criterion" and "criteria". Gratingly often in speech and in writing, I
see "the main criteria is...".

Gosh, yes, and with "phenomenon" and "phenomena" -- "That's a phenomena we often
see at this time of year." ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!! Again, they are neuter plural,
but this time they're Greek, which does the same thing as Latin with its neuter
plurals. But I will not concede the reversion to the original language in this
case! Help me, Ernie! Let us march under the banner of linguistic purity and
noun-verb subject agreement!

Melissa Hunter-Kilmer
mhunterk -at- bna -dot- com
(not only would BNA not agree with me, it would be embarrassed to know that I am
carrying on in this fashion)

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