Singular and plural. Common problems with singular and plural

    The content of these guidelines is taken from the Vives University Network’s Interuniversity Style Guide for Writing Institutional Texts, an interuniversity project in which the UPC participated with the support of the Secretariat for Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia.


    The word data

    • The word data can be singular or plural. However, in common usage we recommend using the singular; in research, convention favours the plural.

      Much of this data is useless because the file has been corrupted.
      The data show a 15% increase in bronchial diseases in four of the five cohorts examined.


    Areas of knowledge

    • Many names of academic and scientific disciplines appear to be plural. These include economics, electronics, physics, statistics and telecommunications, which are usually singular in Catalan (economia, electrònica, física, estadística and telecomunicació, respectively). However, when treated as the name of a field of knowledge or as a subject of study, they are considered collective nouns and take a singular verb.

      Economics is commonly regarded as a soft science.

    • A common but informal version of the term mathematics is maths (British English) or math (American English). In most documents, only the full version of the word is appropriate.

    • A few terms which when used in a generic sense are plural in Catalan (consells, finances, negocis, notícies) take the singular form of the verb in English (advice, finance, business, news).