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WHY is zero in plural?

Petrus

Well-known member
Feb 21, 2013
739
Hello MHB,
I Was woundering WHY is zero in plural? Exemple "I got zero cats". What do you think?

Regards,
\(\displaystyle |\pi\rangle\)
 

ZaidAlyafey

Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Jan 17, 2013
1,667
I am no expert but I would say that the original statement is "I got zero number of cats" . Someone with experience in linguistics might help ,though.
 

Ackbach

Indicium Physicus
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,191
Hello MHB,
I Was woundering WHY is zero in plural? Exemple "I got zero cats". What do you think?

Regards,
\(\displaystyle |\pi\rangle\)
If you are trying to express the fact that you do not have any cats, then the correct English would be "I have zero cats", or even better: "I have no cats". Alternatively, you could use the singular here and say, "I have no cat." It is incorrect to say "I got zero cat", because cats are denumerable. If you say, "I got zero cats", then you are talking about a hypothetical acquisition of cats, in which you did not succeed. It is incorrect to say "I got zero cats" if you really mean that you do not presently have any cats. You will often hear "I've got no cats". That is not quite as correct as some other suggestions, but it is colloquial.

With language, most of the time, the answer to why anything is the way it is is simply convention. Why is English spelling the mess that it is? Convention. Why are there so many exceptions to rules in English? Convention.

Curiously, in Latin, the adjective 'nullus/nulla/nullum', which means 'no', declines to follow the noun it modifies in gender, number, and case. So, in Latin, the sentence "I have no cats" would read "Nullae feles habeo". Or "I have no cat" would read "Nulla felis habeo". There is no 'zero' in Latin, so I can't show you how that (doesn't) work.
 

Petrus

Well-known member
Feb 21, 2013
739
If you are trying to express the fact that you do not have any cats, then the correct English would be "I have zero cats", or even better: "I have no cats". Alternatively, you could use the singular here and say, "I have no cat." It is incorrect to say "I got zero cat", because cats are denumerable. If you say, "I got zero cats", then you are talking about a hypothetical acquisition of cats, in which you did not succeed. It is incorrect to say "I got zero cats" if you really mean that you do not presently have any cats. You will often hear "I've got no cats". That is not quite as correct as some other suggestions, but it is colloquial.

With language, most of the time, the answer to why anything is the way it is is simply convention. Why is English spelling the mess that it is? Convention. Why are there so many exceptions to rules in English? Convention.

Curiously, in Latin, the adjective 'nullus/nulla/nullum', which means 'no', declines to follow the noun it modifies in gender, number, and case. So, in Latin, the sentence "I have no cats" would read "Nullae feles habeo". Or "I have no cat" would read "Nulla felis habeo". There is no 'zero' in Latin, so I can't show you how that (doesn't) work.
Thanks! Yep I mean "I have zero cats" i have no clue WHY i typed "I got zero cats"

Regards,
\(\displaystyle |\pi\rangle\)
 

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,775
Thanks! Yep I mean "I have zero cats" i have no clue WHY i typed "I got zero cats"

Regards,
\(\displaystyle |\pi\rangle\)
Petrus, I hear native English speakers make that same mistake quite often. :D
 

DreamWeaver

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2013
337
The simple answer is that "zero" is both singular and plural, depending upon how you qualify it... For example, although not standard English, if you were to say "I have zero cats", then you've made zero plural by pluralising "cat" into "cats". On the other hand, if you were to say "I've drunk all the beer, and now I have zero left", then this zero could be taken as singular or plural, depending upon just how many beers you drank... (Devil)

Incidentally, if you add one zero to another, do you get (a) an orgi, (b) a whole lot of nothing, or (c) as confused as I am...?

(Hug)