# Articles before word zero [duplicate]

"a zero magnetization" or "the zero magnetization" or "zero magnetization"? "a zero magnetic field" or "the zero magnetic field" or "zero magnetic field"? Are there any specific rules for articles before the word zero? Is not "zero magnetization" equivalent to "magnetization 0" which comes with zero article? Thanks!

• One word: context. – oerkelens Feb 12 '14 at 8:19
• Context:"The external magnetic field acts here as a boundary condition for the model. Let us first consider the model in (none/a/the) zero magnetic field. We see that one possible solution for the magnetization is zero. But (none/a/the) zero magnetization is not a single possible solution here: (none/a/the) non-zero magnetization is possible also." – user65583 Feb 12 '14 at 8:24
• Please add this kind of information to your question, rather than as a comment :) It makes it much easier for others to understand the full extent of your question :) – oerkelens Feb 12 '14 at 8:28
• I think this is a "specialised vocabulary" context. OP seems to be using magnetic field and magnetization interchangeably here as terms which can be modified by the number zero. Which, if this were standard English, would imply it can also be modified by other numbers. But presumably that's not the case, so I don't see this an appropriate question for ELU. It's a matter of how the people at physics use these terms. – FumbleFingers Feb 12 '14 at 8:40
• Context not in physics: "Negative temperatures can kill a plant. And it is a general opinion that (none/a/the) zero temperature can be harmful also. However, this opinion is not generally true because (none/a/the) zero temperature often stimulates the growth of a plant." – user65583 Feb 12 '14 at 8:50

"The external magnetic field acts here as a boundary condition for the model. Let us first consider the model in (none/a/the) zero magnetic field. We see that one possible solution for the magnetization is zero. But (none/a/the) zero magnetization is not a single possible solution here: (none/a/the) non-zero magnetization is possible also."

I would make it:

Let us first consider the model in a zero magnetic field.

Here, the article simply goes with `field`. `zero magnetic` applies adjectively to `field`.

But zero magnetization is not a single possible solution here: non-zero magnetization is possible also.

Here, no article is needed, as you refer to magnetization as a whole.

I do not really see how `zero` makes this in any way special. If I substitute strong or weak (and without physics background, that is no problem :P ):

Let us first consider the model in a strong magnetic field.
But strong magnetism is not a single possible solution here: weak magnetism is also possible .

Zero is not used to count the magnetic field(s) here. Then the phrase would be:

Let us first consider the model in zero magnetic fields.

This means something completely different. I understand we are talking about a magnetic field with the specific property of being `zero`, like it could have been `weak`.

• Thank you for the answer. My confusion has come from the fact that zero acts like a number. IMHO it would be impossible to say, for example, "a field 0". Rephrasing your example: "Let us first consider the model in field "Blue". But colouring "Blue" is not a single possible solution here: colouring "Orange" is also possible . – user65583 Feb 12 '14 at 8:40
• I don't have a background in physics either, but knowledge of basic English tells me you can't extrapolate from usages involving an adjective such as blue to a number such as zero. Adjectives like strong, weak are comparable to blue, but numbers are a completely different class of words. – FumbleFingers Feb 12 '14 at 8:45
• I compare adjectives 'zero' and 'blue' and also compare number '0' with name "Blue" – user65583 Feb 12 '14 at 8:53
• "A field zero magnetic", no, that doesn't work. Neither does "a field blue". The number here applies to magnetic. "A magnetic field" sound OK to me, "a zero magnetic field" as well, as does "a non-zero magnetic field". I agree there would be an issue is `zero` would be used for counting. Here we are measuring. We talk about the zero article as well, which is not the same as "zero articles" (well, effectively it is , but not grammatically). – oerkelens Feb 12 '14 at 8:59
• It acts as a number, but in describing an aspect of the particular thing or things that is hence independently singular or plural. "A 7-tuple" is comparatively still single though it uses 7 in a similar way, while "Three 1-tuples" (or just "Three singles") are plural though they use 1 in a similar way. – Jon Hanna Feb 12 '14 at 10:14