What’s the difference between data and datum?

Difference between data and datum
Data or datum? / STAR Translation Imaging

Difference between data and datum

Data, like a lot of technical and academic words, comes from Latin. It used to be considered as a collective singular noun. In formal documents — for scientific or scholarly writing — data is mostly used as the plural of datum.

Yet, for those of a non-scientific background, data is common for both singular and plural use. It’s acceptable to write a sentence as ‘translation data is available on their website.’ Data is a mass noun. Mass nouns denote something that cannot be counted. When you refer to a small piece of data, this may be called datum.


Data (mass noun, plural)
Facts on which a decision is to be based.
Facts to be processed by a computer.
Datum (singular noun)
Item of data

In addition, there are plural forms that do not end in S as listed below.

Plural Singular
Bacteria Bacterium
Dice Die / Dice
Formulae Formula
Supernovae / Supernovas Supernova
Graffiti Graffito
Candelabra Candelabrum
Data Datum
Media  Medium
Opera Opius
Paparazzi Paparazzo
Men Man
Women Woman
Mice Mouse
Referenda Referendum*
*Referendums is also accepted.

The STAR Team

Source: OED

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