Uncountable mass nouns

March 2, 2016 | By Patrick | Filed in: PAS.

It should come as a surprise to no one that, given the news surrounding the closure of the Oscar Mayer corporate headquarters in Madison, I’m working on my resume. (The one I had coming out of UW-Whitewater more than a few years ago is just a bit out-of-date.)

What format should I use? Should it still contain a Career Objective or maybe a Profile statement instead? I’ve worked for the same company for 26 years. Do I go all the way back to my early programmer days? These questions and more will be answered in the coming days.

Given my predilection for data analyses, I often use the word “data.” While I know it is properly a plural noun, it is very common to see and hear it used as a singular noun. Specifically, I was wondering whether to say “These data are…” or “This data is…” when describing how the data is/are used. (See? I’m undecided so I will use both.) It turns out that today, “data” is commonly treated as an uncountable mass noun. In other words, using “data” in its singular form is OK. Other examples include “money” and “information.” Who knew?

P.S. For the record, the singular form of data is datum. Go ahead, use THAT in a sentence and not get mocked.

P.P.S. Answers to the above that I’m going with: Pick 1, it rarely matters; Profile statement; Probably not, at least not in great detail.

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