Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Data (Singular or Plural?)

The Quick Answer
Treat data as singular. If you need a plural form, use wording like data sets.

Is Data Singular or Plural

The word data is the Latin plural form of datum. However, nowadays, it is treated as a singular noun.

Data Is or Data Are?

Here are two definitions for the word data:

(1) Details, facts, and statistics collected for reference or analysis.
(2) Information electrically stored in, operated on, or transmitted by computers.

Data is the plural of datum. In the past (and still in the occasional scientific institution), data was treated as plural. However, nowadays, it is treated as a singular noun. For example:
  • My data is corrupted.
  • The data is collated by the researchers.
Treating data as a plural noun sounds awkward.
  • My data were corrupted.
  • (Strictly speaking, this is not wrong, but it is very outdated.)
  • The data are collated by the researchers. (outdated)
In modern English, data is classified as an abstract noun (just like the word information).

Play It Safe. Treat Criteria as Plural

Criteria is the plural of criterion. As criterion is still commonly used, criteria is holding on to its plural status more than words like data and data.

When talking about more than one criterion, you must use criteria.

In formal writing, play it safe and treat criteria as plural.