When Is It OK to Say “Data Is”?

Montreal Syllabus TranslationThe quick answer is—most of the time.

From high school English to Latin 101, it’s been drilled into us that “data” is the plural of “datum.” True enough. But once you set foot outside the Ivy League, the term “data” goes the way of its close cousin, “information.” It’s no longer viewed as little bits and pieces that you count separately (aka a count noun), but rather as a massive whole that you consider as an entity (aka a mass noun).

So unless you’re translating academic or scientific papers, consider “data” to be a mass noun that takes a singular verb, as in, the data is very interesting.

When translating, make sure you don’t go overboard in your quest for perfection or else you may stray outside of common usage.

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