Learn English – Is “metadata” considered plural

grammatical-number

The longstanding question of whether "data" is singular or plural has a very appropriate answer in: Is "data" treated as singular or plural in formal contexts?

Yet, I wonder if the same arguments hold true for the related "metadata". In the same "technical paper" context as the linked question, is it appropriate to use "metadata are"? Or does it perhaps depend on the context?

Best Answer

"While I agree that colloquial use allows for "data" (and perhaps thus "metadata") to be a mass noun (i.e. singular), I am more interested in the case where "data" has already been accepted and used as plural in a particular context."

Then, in this case, you would use metadata in the same way as data because "meta" is simply a prefix; the core word should receive consistent treatment. Metadata should, in this case, be treated as plural.