Which is correct (or which would you use?)

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Stinsok, Aug 1, 2009.

  1. Stinsok


    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    The data are incomplete.


    The data is incomplete.
  2. lexxmexx


    Apr 7, 2008
    The data IS incomplete.
    47th Street likes this.
  3. I believe the first one is correct. At least that's what I remember my Statistics teacher told us. I'd still use the second one though.
    47th Street likes this.
  4. Vic Winters

    Vic Winters

    Apr 20, 2006
    Western NY
  5. I'm no grammar whore, but I think it would depend on the context. Not exactly sure, but can't you use data as singular or plural? Playing devils advocate mostly because I would use "data IS" and not "are".
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    More than a decade ago I wrote a magazine article and consistently treated "data" as plural. The editor changed "data are" to "data is." I e-mailed her and asked what was going on. She told me that I was being old-fashioned, and that "data is" has become the accepted way to write it.

    So, times have changed.
  7. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Technically the word data is the plural form of datum.

    Therefore "data are" is technically proper, but "data is" is more widely used and accepted.
  8. Stinsok


    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    The reason I ask is that yesterday, the news was on in the background. I really wasn't paying attention to the story but the reporter said "....however, the data are incomplete."
  9. Both are correct, but I would normally say data is.
  10. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    The word "data" has now replaced the word "datum" as the accepted singular form.

    Consider this sentence:
    The body of data is useful.

    The [subject* noun] is "body" and is singular. It describes all the data as a single unit.

    In practical use, the words "body of" can be dropped from the sentence, yet still implied.

    Technically, this is improper English and grammar-philes' heads spin around like in The Exorcist when they see it happen, but practical usage always wins out over technical rules in the end as languages evolve.
  11. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois

    HA HA HA!

    That's technically wrong because the word "incomplete" makes it apparent that the data must be considered singular in that sentence (The data [set] is incomplete). Someone tried to get too cute and show of their superior grammar knowledge . . . and failed. :p
  12. Gopherbassist


    Jan 19, 2008
    No. Data is plural for datum. Data is would never be correct, but that won't stop me from using it.
  13. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    How is "the data are incomplete" grammatically different from "the deer are hungry"?
  14. "Data are" is gramatically correct, but, "data set is" works better. Depending on the context, so does, "the information is..."
  15. Scarlet Fire

    Scarlet Fire

    Mar 31, 2007
    New England
    Actually, I believe that sentence was correct. The adjective "incomplete" does not infer a plural or singular subject. It's like saying "the buildings are incomplete," or "the books are open."
  16. TOOL460002


    Nov 4, 2004
    Santa Cruz


    and this took a whole thread to resolve? hehe... gotta love talkbass. that said, i have never used the word datum.
  17. Stinsok


    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    The thread are starting to go wrong.
  18. 100% correct. The subject and verb are in agreement as both are in
    the plural form.

    "Data" is a noun also. This fact has nothing to do with the verb form.
    The subject is "body" and it is singular. Consequently, you would
    use the singular form of the verb: is. "Of data" is a prepositional
    phrase which does not affect the verb.

    Here, the subject "data" is plural; however, "is" is the singular form of the verb.
    The subject and verb are not in agreement. While it is often spoken
    this way, this sentence is incorrect.

    The word "data" is plural; however it looks singular. That is why
    it is often used incorrectly.
    "Media" is another example of this.
    Conversely, "news" is a singular word that looks plural.
  19. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois

    "The buildings are incomplete." is correct because each building can be incomplete by itself.

    "The books are open." is correct because each book can be open by itself.

    "The data are incomplete." is incorrect because it is logically inconsistent for each piece of data to be incomplete by itself. It is only the set of data that is incomplete and the set of data must be singular.
  20. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    The subject is being incorrectly used in the plural form.