Saturday, November 22, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 71)

I hope I haven't kept you waiting too long for more of these:

Data vs. Datum

Right: The data are used to plot a graph.

Right: Additional data is available upon request.

Data is the plural of the singular datum (a single piece of information, such as a fact or statistic). When referring to multiple data points, use data as a plural noun. However, when referring to a body of information, it is permissible to use data as a singular noun.

Different than vs. Different from vs. Different to

Wrong: San Francisco is different than Oakland in many ways.

Right: San Francisco is different from Oakland in many ways.

Right: San Francisco differs from Oakland in many ways.

Just to be clear, different than is always incorrect. It should be different from in U.S. English or different to in U.K. English. (It’s unusual that to and from would be used synonymously in this context.) Isn’t it interesting how U.S. English differs from U.K. English in so many respects?

I'll have more for you next time.


No comments: