2

I wrote:

Web data extraction is the process of seeking and finding data on the Web, then extracting them/it from Web sources, and transforming them/it into structured data

I know "data" is plural but it is uncountable, so is its pronoun "them" or "it"?

3

It. Even uncountable nouns take singular pronouns provided that they are singular. Here are some examples:

Water is essential to life; it is necessary for many biological processes to take place.

I have collected evidence regarding the crime, but it may not be admissible in court.

NOTE - As pointed out by @sumelic, "Data" is treated by some as a plural noun. Should you decide in favor of this usage, use plural pronouns such as "them" and not "it."

7
  • 2
    The issue is that some people treat "data" as a plural noun. So figuring out if "provided that they are singular" applies is the problem here
    – sumelic
    Jan 17 '17 at 19:06
  • @sumelic when I said "provided that they are singular," I was differentiating my examples from when uncountable nouns actually take the plural. For instance, you might say, "these waters are hard to navigate." In that case, "these waters" would be referred to as "they." However, if there is no "s" at the end of the noun making it plural, than it is singular and is referred to with singular pronouns. (Barring irregular plurals such as "cacti") Jan 17 '17 at 19:12
  • "data" can be an irregular plural like "cacti". Some people say "these data are".
    – sumelic
    Jan 17 '17 at 19:13
  • 2
    In my experience in the (U.S.) tech sector, the ratio of people who treat data as singular to those who treat it as plural is over 100:1. Personally, I don't care as long as you are consistent about it.
    – Andrew
    Jan 17 '17 at 19:15
  • 1
    English is renowned as an 'adoptive parent' of words from all over the world. 'Data' is one such adoptee which, originally (and until quite recently), was only the plural of the adopted Latin word 'datum', and did not even have its own dictionary entry. Today, however, 'datum' and 'data' can be regarded independently. 'Data' can be treated as a plural, or (particularly in computing) as a singular. The original singular 'datum' is still used, particularly in geography and surveying, and in mathematics it has even developed a new plural 'datums'.
    – Warren Ham
    Jan 17 '17 at 23:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.