data was / were

Discussion in 'English Only' started by as_99, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. as_99 Senior Member

    I am wondering which one is correct: data was or were. Please see the following example:

    The data of the occupational injuries from GOSI and ministry of Labour records was obtained, reviewed and analyzed

    Please advise
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Here's a link to a previous thread on the subject.
  3. as_99 Senior Member

    What about the example I gave above?

    Please advise
  4. chamyto

    chamyto Senior Member

    Burgos, Spain
    As it´s plural , I think it should be were.
  5. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    AE "data were".
    BE "data was" + analysed. Sometimes we write "data were" in scientific language, but even here "was" is more common, in my opinion.

    The sentence you gave breaks the rules of BE (because of "analyzed"). I would also say that it breaks the rules of AE (because of "was"), although it is possible that some people in the US regard data as singular.

    PS I wrote the above from memory. On checking, I find that in AE singular or plural is common at any level. although the plural is more common. However, many journals insist on the plural. We have sentences such as "Much of the data are tentative" (New York Times 1974), where "much" seems to be inconsistent. In 1973 Chief Justice Warren Burger said "There is no scientific data which conclusively demonstrates...." (and the underlined words were commented on as wrong by the Times Book Review).
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010
  6. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Both usages are common in both AmE and BrE.
    What will determine "correctness" is the preference of the listener :D
  7. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    My PS was written before I saw your comment.
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)

Share This Page