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Which style of Latin plurals should I use?
Is “data” considered singular or plural?
Where are the "data"? I only have one "datum".

Listening to Radio 4's Today programme this morning I was struck by how the journalists, commentators, politicians and other obviously very well educated people are happy to use referendums as the plural of referendum. This grates on me - I was always told such Latin words, when pluralised, ended in 'a' and, being working-class, I tend to regard these kinds of people as models of good behaviour and speech (yes I know). Other usages that grate are referenda, data (plural of datum) and, in our football-obsessed times, the ubiquitous stadia (plural of stadium) and many, many more.

Should I just accept the fact that the world is changing and embrace what to me are very ugly examples of modern English or are these people, in the strictest sense wrong?


1 Answer 1


With its Latin origins, 'referendum' has both 'referenda' and 'referendums' as its plurals, though dictionaries diverge over which to present as the primary form.

Yet note that 'stadiums' and 'stadia' express different meanings: the former is 'sports grounds' while the latter is 'stages of a disease'.

The discourse on the word 'data' is more complex, concerning some other considerations that you can find here (http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/81707/data-is-are-in-a-global-context) and here (http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/6904/is-data-considered-singular-or-plural).

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