# Can I say “reduces the proximity to zero” to describe 2 objects being very close?

When I say "reduces the proximity to zero", does it mean that the distance between two objects are extremely close?

My intention is to describe that the distance between two objects gets very close together. I checked the dictionary and it says proximity is the nearness. I am worry that when I say "reduce to zero", I flipped the meaning opposite to become "reduce nearness to zero", which may feel like it meant "very far apart".

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"Proximity" usually is not quantified in the way your example requires. Saying "This reduces the proximity of A and B to zero" means that A and B become less close to an origin, zero; for example, one might become quite negative, the other quite positive; or both could become quite large while steadily growing closer together. (This is true, for example, of x and x+1/x as x goes to infinity.) In short, reduction of proximity of A and B to the origin need not dictate whether A and B get closer together.

The construction "reduces the distance to zero" also has the problem of being unclear about whether it refers to distance between two points rather than distances between two points and an origin. For clarity, say "The distance between A and B reduces to zero" or "A and B approach and then coincide", or become equal, etc.

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Proximity is a state, or condition. It is not a measurement. Consider the common phrase 'in the proximity of', which I imagine as the object inside a circle or zone around the other. Think 'neighborhood'.

So saying you have reduced the proximity to zero is almost meaningless, and as you suspect, might be twisted to mean your two objects have no proximity to each other at all, are in fact very far apart.

When you re-state your intended meaning as 'My intention is to describe that the distance between two objects gets very close together' again the condition (close together) is mixed up with a measure (distance).

Perhaps you are thinking to say '. . the distance between two objects gets very small. They get very close together.'

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I am worry that when I say "reduce to zero", I flipped the meaning opposite to become "reduce nearness to zero", which may feel like it meant "very far apart".

I have the same feeling as well. However, "increases the proximity" sounds terribly awkward as well.

As your intention is to describe the objects getting closer together, why not just use:

As the two objects approach one another...

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Are you by chance trying to describe Zeno's Paradox?

The way you've worded it (i.e., "reduce the proximity to zero"), I would assume that meant the two objects were touching. If you said "the distance between the two objects approaches zero," that would imply the two objects are getting closer and closer together.

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To avoid ambiguity, you can simply write reduces the distance to zero. Proximity means closeness and it is not clear what reduces closeness to zero means.

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So does it mean that if I say "increase proximity", it will mean "much more nearer" and "reduce proximity" means "less nearer"? – xenon Mar 4 '12 at 23:44