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Get it right, at least on average: Data vs. datum

If looking Binary-1327512_1920 at a graph of how many times the verb coming after these two words is confused, the numbers would be off the chart.

Datum means a lone, singular bit of measured information. Data is the plural of datum, as in Data about parking violations in New York City is available online.

Because of this, data technically requires a plural verb, as in The data are irrefutable. Of course, this sounds odd. Data seems to be a collection that is considered a single, unified object, in the same way that the United States is singular rather than plural.

My advice: Know your audience. If writing for a formal, academic purpose, show off your smarts by going with a plural verb. In all other instances, be a normal human being and use a singular verb.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Washington, D.C., or a small town like Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, I can provide that second eye.


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