Zeroes or Zeros? (American English vs. British English)

Knowing how to pluralise the word “zero” causes confusion for many English learners because there is more than one version of the plural. This article examines the different forms and shows how they are used in sentences.

Zeroes or Zeros?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, both “zeros” and “zeroes” are correct plural forms of the word “zero.” However, in British English, “zeros” is by far the most common version; in American English “, zeros” is also more common than “zeroes”, but the difference is much smaller.

Zeroes or Zeros

Surprisingly, the Oxford English Dictionary states that “zeroes” is the correct plural form, even though “zeros” is used far more commonly in British English.

Furthermore, the word “zeroes” is also the 3rd person present participle for the verb “to zero in” on something, which has a similar meaning to “focus.”

Also, when writing a text in AP Style, the guidance states that “zeros” is the preferred plural form.

Keep reading to find out about the plural forms in each country.

Zeroes or Zeros in American English?

According to the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), the most commonly used version in the US is “zeros”, with over three hundred mentions compared to just over one hundred for the term “zeros.”

The Google Ngram for American English also reinforces this trend by showing that “zeros” has always been more common than “zeroes”, despite the latter also being used as the 3rd person present participle of the verb “to zero in” on something.

Zeroes or Zeros US

Here are some examples of “zeros” in a sentence:

  • He got three zeros on his assignments because he didn’t turn any of them in.
  • Unfortunately, when I checked my bank balance, I saw lots of big round zeros.
  • It looked like there were too many zeros in the phone number, so I must have miswritten it.

Zeroes or Zeros in British English?

In British English, the preferred plural form of the word “zero” is “zeros”, despite the Oxford English Dictionary stating that the correct form is “zeroes.”

The British National Corpus (BNC) reveals that “zeros” has been used over one hundred and thirty times compared to less than ten for “zeroes.”

The Google Ngram also backs this statement up and confirms that “zeros” has always been way more popular in the UK, despite the growth of the word “zeroes” in the last fifty years.

Zeroes or Zeros UK

Here are some examples of “zeros” in a sentence:

  • When I saw my paycheque, I had to read it twice because I thought I had miscounted the zeros.
  • The price tag of the dress had way too many zeros for my bank balance to cope with.

Zeroes or Zeros in Canada?

Canadian English tends to follow US English more closely than British English. Considering that the term “zeroes” is used far more in the US than it is in the UK, you are more likely to see “zeroes” as the plural version of “zero” in Canada than you are in the UK.

However, despite the increased use of “zeroes” in North America compared to the rest of the world, in Canada, like in the US, the more popular term for the plural of “zero” is “zeros.”

Here are some examples of “zeros” in a sentence:

  • When I received the check for winning the lottery, I couldn’t believe how many zeros it had.
  • The price of his new yacht had way too many zeros for the average person to afford.

Zeroes or Zeros in Australia?

Australian English tends to follow the rules and trends of British English more so than it does American English. Furthermore, in the Australian English Dictionary, it lists both “zeros” and “zeroes” as the plural form of “zero.”

However, as in the UK, US, and Canada, in Australia, the more common plural form of “zero” is “zeros.”

Here are some examples of how “zeros” looks in a sentence:

  • If spaces are left at the end of your SS number on the application form, do not fill them in with zeros.
  • I would love to receive a cheque with six zeros after the first number; then, I would be a millionaire.

Zeroes or Zeros in Other Countries?

The Google Ngram for the global use of the “zeros” and “zeroes” shows that “zeros” has always been the more popular version and that the difference has only grown wider since the 1950s.

Zeroes or Zeros usage

Nowadays, the appearance of “zeros” is more than ten times more common than the alternative plural form “zeroes.”

Final Thoughts

According to Merriam-Webster and the Oxford Dictionaries, both “zeros” and “zeroes” are acceptable plural forms for “zero.” The version “zeroes” is far more common in the US and Canada than it is in the UK and Australia, although “zeros” is used more often than “zeroes” in all countries.