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Is Data Singular or Plural?

Are you aware that data is the plural form of the noun datum? Accordingly, when referring to the existence of data in formal academic writing, the plural form of the verb should be used: the data are or the data show. It's true that the English language is always evolving and that using data as a singular noun has become a more common usage; however, when it comes to formal writing, such as an academic paper, article, thesis, or dissertation, my recommendation is to stay with the traditional subject-verb agreement of data and use it as a plural subject with a plural verb. The seventh edition APA Style manual identifies "datum" as the singular form and "data" as the plural form (American Psychological Association, 2020, p. 161), and for more information regarding subject-verb agreement please refer to pages 161-162 in the seventh edition of the APA Style manual.

Do you have questions about this writing tip? Please contact the Writing Centre

Theresa Bell
Manager, Blended Learning Success

(Originally published in Crossroads January 30, 2014, updated August 17, 2020)  


American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).