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Thread: Data

  1. #1
    Allen165 is offline Key Member
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    Data

    "After all, the ECLS data don't say that books in the house cause high test scores; it says only that the two are correlated."

    The above sentence is from Freakonomics, a book well worth reading. My question is, Shouldn't "it" be "they"? Or, if one wants to keep "it," then "don't" should be "doesn't."

    Thanks!

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    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is online now Moderator
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    Re: Data

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen165 View Post
    "After all, the ECLS data don't say that books in the house cause high test scores; it says only that the two are correlated."

    The above sentence is from Freakonomics, a book well worth reading. My question is, Shouldn't "it" be "they"? Or, if one wants to keep "it," then "don't" should be "doesn't."

    Thanks!
    "After all, the ECLS data doesn't say that books in the house cause high test scores; it says only that the two are correlated."
    That's how I would write it.

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    Mannysteps is offline Member
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    Re: Data

    Not a teacher

    The confusion is generated by "data" being the plural of "datum". Although scientists refer to it in the plural, the modern tendency is to treat it as a mass noun, thus being the the singular applicable. Both are classified correct but does, indeed, generate some difficulties when refering to it as an antecedent.

    M.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Data

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen165 View Post
    "After all, the ECLS data don't say that books in the house cause high test scores; it says only that the two are correlated."

    The above sentence is from Freakonomics, a book well worth reading. My question is, Shouldn't "it" be "they"? Or, if one wants to keep "it," then "don't" should be "doesn't."
    Yes; it's a sloppy sentence. I think the writer may have used the plural to sound posh ad academic, then lapsed into ordinary usage.

    Unlike scientists, I go for the singular.

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