When using zero as a quantifier, is it correct to use the singular form on the object of the quantifier, or the plural form?

It sounds confusing when I put it that way, but what I mean is: Which is correct?

  • Your password expires in 0 days.
  • Your password expires in 0 day.

Essentially I suppose I'm asking, does "singular" mean "one" or "the opposite of more than one", as zero is not "plural" in the traditional "more than one" sense?

I'm pretty sure "days" sounds correct, but I can't be sure.

  • Definitely 'days'. General rule of thumb, I'd say, is that if you're using 1 or -1, it's singular; else it's plural.
    – Jez
    Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 20:38
  • 1
    Yes, we have no bananas. Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 20:45
  • @Jez -- I think I'd usually pluralise with any number other than 1, including -1. Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 21:22
  • 2
    Answered by a linguist here, and by another linguist here.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 21:02
  • What about 1.0 ton / tons? 1.0 may or may not be equivalent to (exactly equal to in mathsspeak) 1 (it may be a rounded figure). Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 15:50

3 Answers 3


In English, every number that is not 1 is considered plural. The correct sentence is the first you wrote.

Your password expires in 0 days.

  • 2
    That is not quite correct. 0.5 for example is considered singular.
    – user38936
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 22:33
  • 10
    I would say "you need 0.5 kilograms of beans", rather than "0.5 kilogram of bean." It's half kilogram, that is true. Anyway, the question is about days, which normally is an integer value.
    – apaderno
    Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 16:56
  • 4
    You would, however, say "you need half a bean" - if you could think of any situation that would actually call for half a bean. Days are discussed in fractions somewhat more frequently than beans, especially in project estimating - "making that change will add half a day to the schedule", for example. If talking in decimals, though, we'd be more likely to say "0.5 days." That suggests that there's a grammatical distinction between using traditional and decimal fractions. Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 14:14
  • @kiamlaluno while your answer is correct, could you please source it to a reference?
    – Cœur
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 11:34

For your specific example, since you're doing processing to check for != 1 day, I'd recommend spending the few extra lines of code to produce "Your password expires today", "Your password expires tomorrow", or "your password expires in X days".

In the general case, 0 does count (rather non-intuitively) as a plural number.


Zero is always plural. Only "one" is singular in the English language. Correctly, it is 0.5 kilogram of beans (five tenths of a kilogram of beans vice five tents of a kilograms of beans).

  • 2
    Slightly disagree on 0.5 killogram. I say "zero point five kilograms" or half a kilogram.
    – user420667
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 19:12

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