Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Oct 30 2009   2:31PM GMT

Writing for Business – Data is or data are

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

Supporting data for those risk indicators ______ going to be difficult to obtain.
a. is
b. are
Which is correct?

Answer: Both answers are correct

The subject of the sentence is data and it is acceptable for data to be used a singular subject or a plural subject.

Source: Oxford Dictionary
Strictly speaking, data is the plural of datum, and should be used with a plural verb (like facts). However, there has been a growing tendency to use it as an equivalent to the uncountable noun information, followed by a singular verb. This is now regarded as generally acceptable in American use, and in the context of information technology. The traditional usage is still preferable, at least in Britain, but it may soon become a lost cause.

Helpful hint: Removing the prepositional phrase”for those risk indicators” will make it easier to identify the subject of the sentence.

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