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October 05, 2006

Data

... is a plural noun. One datum, two or more data.

Note to everyone in the world who ever writes anything at all ever: please note and observe the above.

You cannot say: "this data shows ..." (these data show)
You cannot say: "we have analysed the data and it indicates ..." (... they indicate).

I am absolutely clear on this, and very boring and droney-on on the subject. I harangue the TV (even the Beeb regularly gets it wrong) and my correctness and worthiness and sensibleness is always confirmed by my family. I can tell, you see, by the way they always react when I am right about something for the hundred and eleventy-fifth time. They always mutter "Jesus Christ, keep on, Dad, yes, Dad, you're right, whatever" and roll their eyes and look at each other and shake their heads slowly. See, I know I'm right when they do that.

Not being a perfect person, however (difficult as this may be to believe, I know) I had a bit of a problem with (something like) the following phrase in a book: " none of the data, when analysed, has showed ....". Has showed? I thought. Shouldn't that be have showed? I'm still not entirely sure, but I reckoned at first the book's probably right: 'none of the data' is singular. Surely nothing isn't plural? Unfortunately, this fails the CWC test for how to use 'data': substitute a plural phrase such as 'pieces of information'. Thus, the nonsense of 'this pieces of information shows'.Would you say, though, 'none of the pieces of information ... has showed'? Have showed, surely? I'm stumped. I don't know. My brain hurts.

Anyone?


( ....care? At all? Just me, then).

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