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Why is Zero Plural?


Attached magnetically on the refrigerator in our kitchen:

a white board with a countdown written on it in black dry erase marker that says “1 DAY LEFT OF MIDDLE SCHOOL !!”

I think about erasing the “1” and writing “0,” but then I’d also have to add an “S” to “DAY.”


Because it’s true; today’s her last day.

I realize something that is slightly confusing: in this case, 1 is singular and 0 is plural.

Immediately I think: Zero, which is nothing, is plural. What does that mean?

Of course my mostly rational brain always searches for meaning.

Zero, like two or three or negative four, is plural.

Zero is a placeholder that separates negative from positive numbers.

Zero is limbo, a place where one is neither positive or negative, alive or dead, happy or sad.

And this place is plural, not singular. Zero is two or more places, two or more states of mind.

Maybe zero is both negative and positive, and that’s what makes it plural?

Maybe zero is alive and dead, happy and sad?

Maybe zero, a place where nothing exists, is actually everything, and the grammatical rules I use to express myself to other people intuit this contradictory nature.

June 5, 2014 10:43 am

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