At first I thought that "101" was a prononciation of "One-Null-One", but then I found out that someone had wrote it down as "One-Ow-One". I'm confused.

Also: when I hear people pronouncing years like "1902" pronouncing the first two numbers first, are they saying: "Nineteen-Null-Two"?

I would be grateful if you could also provide me with other examples in which the number "0" is pronounced differently than "zero".

PS: I am a non-native speaker.

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    Null sounds British English. Americans will say one-oh-one and nineteen-oh-two. The spoken use of oh (representing the letter o) is commonplace. Also, oh is used in telephone numbers: one-eight hundred, five five five seven six oh five. Or you could say/write zero. Also zip codes 10001 one triple oh one. OED on oh: 'The Arabic zero, 0; nought. Usually in combination with other numerals.' – Arm the good guys in America Feb 23 '17 at 17:31
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    Of course, it's unlikely that you would ever have a need to write it any way other than "101", regardless of how you speak it. – Hot Licks Feb 23 '17 at 19:00
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    When reading out a long series of numbers (eg, a credit card number, or some sort of technical data thing), it's not unusual to say "zero" (though "oh" is also used, depending on the context). "Null" or "nil" is never used for saying numbers in the US. – Hot Licks Feb 23 '17 at 19:02
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    One Oh One is the universal university pronunciation in the United States. Not only does it signify a university course number, it also signifies the introductory level of the course. Calc 101 (usually differential), English 101 (usually composition), Spanish 101 (for those who know no Spanish), etc. – John Lawler Feb 23 '17 at 21:01
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    "Null" is never used for saying numbers in British English, either. "Zero" would only be used instead of "Oh" in BrE in a technical context - for example reading out a mathematical equation, or the navigator of a ship or aircraft saying something like "steer three zero five degrees." British universities etc. don't necessarily follow the common US system for numbering courses, but "one oh one" is widely understood as "an introduction to a subject" in the UK. – alephzero Feb 24 '17 at 5:21

In letters, 101 is written:

One hundred one.

However, for courses, "one oh one" is one hundred one times more common.

Those who work in customer service over the phone are trained to use "zero." Everyone else almost always says "oh" for the zero. This goes for phone numbers, product numbers, addresses, etc. (American English)


According to my new favorite site on the internet, Google NGram, "one oh one" is a pronunciation listed in books. Neither "one null one" or "one ow one" in any of their forms are significant enough to register. Of course, some also say "one hundred one" or "one hundred and one". Those have a much higher rating in NGram, but one must keep in mind that deals with literature, not pronunciation.

So clearly "one oh one" is the dominant pronunciation, if it's listed in books, more than your alternatives. In my experience as an English speaker, people always say either that or the variants of "a hundred and one".

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    I use Ngram Viewer too from time to time. Thank you. This pronunciation of the number "0" is something I wanted to understand for quite some time now. – Jermaine Bolins Apr 27 '17 at 21:26

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