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I saw this sentence on a web service. But I think this sentence is wrong.

"This data are treated anonymously."

I think it should be either of these.

"This data is treated anonymously." "These data are treated anonymously."

Am I right?

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  • The data on data are all over the place.
    – Hot Licks
    May 17, 2019 at 2:31
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    (Bear in mind that purists such as HAL will argue that "data" is plural, and "datum" is the singular form.)
    – Hot Licks
    May 17, 2019 at 2:33

1 Answer 1

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You are indeed correct. Formally, "data" is a collective noun, being the plural form of the Latin "datum". Thus, a grammarian would prefer "These data are...".

In popular usage, the word's Latin origins are being forgotten, and it is far more common these days for English speakers to treat "data" as a singular noun. For most users, "This data is..." would be the preferred form.

My guess is that the sentence you found started out as "This data is...", but was "corrected" with a plural noun when someone insisted the noun was plural. The writer likely failed to notice that the article should also have been changed to match.

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  • Normally I do not support answers that do not have citation and source...but this is a very cogent argument...+1 May 17, 2019 at 3:21
  • It could also be argued that "This data is..." is an elided form of "This set of data is..." But perhaps that's too much of a compromise for some:)
    – BoldBen
    May 17, 2019 at 7:29

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