Word Choice – Zero Dollars or Zero Dollar

Marlene’s question: “I hear people say ‘zero dollars.’ If it’s zero, shouldn’t it be ‘zero dollar’?”

BizWritingTip response: “Zero” can be used as a noun, verb or adjective.

Examples (correct)

Turn the dial to zero. (Zero is a singular noun.)

We all got zeros on the test. (Zero is a plural noun.)

She quickly zeroed in on the problem. (Zero is a verb.)

The company has a zero-tolerance policy on accessing porn. (Zero is an adjective.)

When is zero hour? (Zero is an adjective.)

When a word is used as an adjective, the concept of singular or plural does not apply to it.

Examples (correct)

I have dollars in the bank. (You would never say “I have dollar in the bank.”)

I have zero dollars in the bank. (Zero is an adjective.)

?Although the concept of “zero dollar” makes sense, grammatically it is incorrect.??Trust this helps.

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