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May 31 2012   1:54PM GMT

Demographics – plural or singular?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
According to some critics, the sharing of health information among organizations will provide demographics from various populations as _________ of information for insurance providers seeking to deny claims.
a. a source
b. sources


Answer: b.

Explanation:
In this case, demographics is plural, because we’re talking about multiple streams of data. If we were talking about the study of demographics, then it would be singular, like economics or physics. More formally, the study is known as demography. What’s the difference between an “ics” and an “ology”? I forget. Read on for an excerpt from Dave Barry’s related discourse.

According to Dave Barry,

“Basically, you learn two kinds of things in college:

1. Things you will need to know in later life (two hours).

2. Things you will not need to know in later life (1,998 hours). These are the things you learn in classes whose names end in -ology, -osophy, -istry, -ics, and so on. The idea is, you memorize these things, then write them down in little exam books, then forget them. If you fail to forget them, you become a professor and have to stay in college for the rest of your life.”

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