Language problems

We often see the same language problems over and over again in the manuscripts we receive. Here we discuss some of the more common problem categories.

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Data

Data is a strange word. It is used as a singular noun or a plural noun, depending who is using it. At SciWrite we follow the American Medical Association Manual of Style and use it in the plural. And even though you can’t count data, data is a countable noun. Countable nouns are those that can be made plural (indeed, data is the plural of datum, although it may only be used that way in Latin) while uncountable nouns are those (such as research) that cannot be made plural. While certain adjectives, such as some, can be used for both types of nouns, others can be used for only one, and little can be used only for uncountable nouns (little research has been done). Thus, we write few data, not little data. You can read more about countable and uncountable nouns here.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525-1569)