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Data vs. Datum: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 7, 2023
Data refers to a collection of facts or statistics, while Datum is the singular form, representing a single piece of information.

Key Differences

Data and Datum both pertain to information, particularly in the realm of research, science, and statistics. Data is a term that envelops multiple pieces of information. When you conduct a survey or study, the collective responses and findings you gather are referred to as data.
Conversely, Datum zeroes in on a single point of information. In a vast sea of data, one specific fact or statistic is a datum. While "data" is often used colloquially in singular contexts in modern English, especially in non-technical settings, it's technically a plural term, with "datum" as its singular counterpart.
The evolution of language and its usage means that in many contexts, especially in informal settings, people use "data" in a singular manner. For example, one might say, "This data is incorrect," even when referring to a single piece of information. However, if being precise, one would say, "This datum is incorrect."
Another aspect to consider is the field of application. In disciplines where precision is paramount, such as in certain scientific fields, the distinction between data and datum might be adhered to more strictly. However, in everyday usage or in areas like journalism, "data" is commonly employed for both singular and plural references.

Comparison Chart



Refers to

Collection of facts or statistics
Single fact or statistic

Common Usage

Both singular (colloquially) and plural
Less commonly used

Field of Application

General, including informal settings
Technical, precise disciplines

Example Sentence

"The data show variations in temperature."
"One datum from the research was unexpected."

Data and Datum Definitions


Digital information that can be transmitted or processed.
The data transfer was completed without errors.


A single piece of information.
One surprising datum emerged from the poll.


Facts or figures to be processed; evidence, records, or statistics.
The scientist collected data from multiple experiments.


A specific value in a set of values.
That datum stands out as an outlier in the dataset.


Quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed.
The computer processed the data quickly.


A singular form of data.
This datum contradicts the earlier findings.


Information output by a sensing device or organ.
The weather station provides data about temperature and humidity.


A reference point, level, or surface.
The surveyors established a datum before beginning.


Information translated into a form suitable for processing.
The data can be stored on a hard drive.


Pl. da·ta (-tə) A fact or proposition used to draw a conclusion or make a decision. See Usage Note at data.


Plural of datum


Pl. da·tums A point, line, or surface used as a reference, as in surveying, mapping, or geology.


Information, especially in a scientific or computational context, or with the implication that it is organized.
The raw information was processed and placed into a database so the data could be accessed more quickly.


(dated) data; a single recorded observation.


(collectively) Recorded observations that are usually presented in a structured format.


(plural: data) (philosophy) A fact known from direct observation.


(computing) A representation of facts or ideas in a formalized manner capable of being communicated or manipulated by some process.


(plural: data) (philosophy) A premise from which conclusions are drawn.


Senseid|en|telephony}}(mobile telephony) {{ellipsis of mobile data: digital information transmitted using the cellular telephone network rather than Wi-Fi.
Run out of data


(plural: datums) A fixed reference point or set of reference points which precisely define a system of measurement or a coordinate system.


See Datum.


(plural: datums) (nautical) A floating reference point, or SLDMB, used to evaluate surface currents in a body of water. Often employed by coastal search and rescue.


A collection of facts, observations, or other information related to a particular question or problem; as, the historical data show that the budget deficit is only a small factor in determining interest rates.


To provide missing data points by using a mathematical model to extrapolate values that are outside the range of a measuring device.


Information, most commonly in the form of a series of binary digits, stored on a physical storage medium for manipulation by a computer program. It is contrasted with the program which is a series of instructions used by the central processing unit of a computer to manipulate the data. In some conputers data and execuatble programs are stored in separate locations.


Something given or admitted; a fact or principle granted; that upon which an inference or an argument is based; - used chiefly in the plural.
Any writer, therefore, who . . . furnishes us with data sufficient to determine the time in which he wrote.


A collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn;
Statistical data


A single piece of information; a fact; especially a piece of information obtained by observation or experiment; - used mostly in the plural.


The quantities or relations which are assumed to be given in any problem.


A point, line, or level surface used as a reference in measuring elevations.


An item of factual information derived from measurement or research


A fixed starting point of a scale or operation.
Engineers set a datum for the construction project.


Is "data" singular or plural?

Data is technically plural, but often used singularly in modern English.

Can "datum" refer to a reference point?

Yes, "datum" can refer to a reference or starting point.

Is it correct to say "This data is"?

Colloquially, yes. Formally, one might prefer "These data are."

How is "datum" used in geology?

It's used to denote a level surface against which elevations are measured.

Can "data" refer to digital information?

Yes, data can refer to digital information suitable for processing.

Is "data" always factual?

No, data can be erroneous or biased.

Is it wrong to use "data" as singular?

In informal settings, it's widely accepted. In technical contexts, precision may be preferred.

Why is "data" used in singular contexts?

Language evolves, and "data" as singular has become widely accepted in many contexts.

What's the singular form of data?

The singular form of data is "datum."

How are data and datum related to databases?

Databases store data, and each entry or value could be referred to as a datum.

Do all fields distinguish between data and datum?

Not always, especially in non-technical settings.

Can a datum be subjective?

Yes, if it's based on personal feelings or opinions.

Can "datum" refer to a singular piece of digital data?

Yes, it can refer to a single piece of digital information.

Can data be qualitative?

Yes, data can be both qualitative (descriptive) and quantitative (numerical).

Can a datum be a reference in cartography?

Yes, it can denote a reference point on a map.

How is "datum" used in surveying?

It's a reference point or level against which other measurements are taken.

What's the origin of "datum"?

It's derived from Latin, meaning "something given."

Are there other singular forms of plural words like "data"?

Yes, like "media" (singular "medium") and "criteria" (singular "criterion").

What's more common in everyday language: data or datum?

"Data" is far more common in everyday language.

Are data always based on reality?

No, data can represent simulations, predictions, or hypothetical scenarios.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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