Usage of data: The following data pertain(s) to you.


Which way is correct?

The following data pertains to you
The following data pertain to you

My guess is “pertains” because data is singular right?

Hello Ched,

There are three views:

  1. “Data” is the plural of “datum”, and should therefore take a verb in the plural.
  2. “Data” is a non-count noun, like “information”, and can therefore take a verb in the singular.
  3. “Data” can be either a plural noun, or a non-count noun, depending on the context, and can therefore take either.

The first view often prevails in scientific publications; the second, in the context of IT, and in general usage.

Personally, I favour the third view; but this means that someone somewhere will always think you have made a mistake.

One solution is to use the phrase “data set”, which is undeniably singular; or “details”, if it fits the context.

Best wishes,


I also prefer view #3. Data is sometimes the plural of datum, and at other times a non-count noun, depending on the situation in which it is used.

So, in the sentence:
According to one report, approximately 80% of all the data in the computers around the world is/are in English?
According to

the answer should be is?

Inga, in that sentence I’d use “is”. “Data” would be considered a singular mass noun there, except by extreme, retrograde prigs.

OK. I discussed this example with my students and forgot to post it here :). Thank you.