Public Works and Government Services Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Important notice

Good news! We have updated our writing tools. Writing Tips and The Canadian Style have been combined to create a new tool called Writing Tips Plus.

Don’t forget to update your bookmarks. Within a few weeks, Writing Tips will no longer be available.

To begin your search, go to the alphabetical index below and click on the first letter of the word you are searching for.

zero, zero in, zeroing in

Nouns ending with a consonant preceding the o are made plural by adding either an s or an es—although zero can be spelled either way: zeros or zeroes.

  • A zero may mean nothing, but in salary negotiations several zeros (or zeroes) to the left of the decimal point mean a great deal.

Note that an e is added to the verb zero to form the present tense (zeroes) or past tense (zeroed), but an e is not needed to form the present participle (zeroing).

  • Brenda always zeroes right in on the problem.

The verb zero in has a casual tone and is not recommended in formal writing; consider using synonyms such as "focus on" and "concentrate on" instead.

  • To build a stronger team, the football coach is zeroing in on (or focusing on) his players’ weaknesses.

For clarity, hyphenate zero when it is used in a compound modifier, as in zero-tolerance policy.

  • Is a zero-deficit budget realistic at this time?