Zero in Spanish Language

Have you heard expressions like zero to zero, zero to the left, or patient zero?

Zero is more than just a number and has different uses!

Join us to unveil all you need to know about zero in Spanish language!

Etymology of zero in Spanish

The word cero/zero in Spanish comes from the Arabic ṣifr-, meaning void. This word gave rise to the Latin zephyrum-, from which later arose the Italian term zero-. Zero has been present in human history, being part of important discoveries and mathematical breakthroughs:

  • 773: Arabians adopted the zero concepts in India.
  • 825: Al-Khwārizmī2 introduced the word sifr in his work Al-ğabr.
  • 1202: Fibonacci gave it the name Zephirum in his work Liber Abaci (Book of the Abacus).

On the other hand, Mayans were the American pioneers in using the zero. In this case, instead of “void”, for them, it represented “fullness“. They did it with a glyph similar to a seashell or a clenched fist symbolizing the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.

What is zero in Spanish language

You probably already know that zero is a number indicating emptiness, absence of quantity, or null value. Zero is also the center that divides the numerical scale into positive and negative numbers. So we could say that it’s a dead point of numbers.

However, it is not such a dead point, since zero can add value and at the same time take it away. For example, in our number system, zeros to the right are higher positive values. However, when multiplying any number by zero, the result is always zero.

Now, in linguistic terms, zero is a word that serves as a noun, adjective, and transitive verb. Its forms are singular “cero” and plural “ceros”. We will show you how the zero works in Spanish.

How to say zero in Spanish

In the Spanish language, the literal translation of zero is “cero”. Although there is not a wide variety of words to replace it, we will show you how to say cero in Spanish.

Zero as a noun

We use the word zero as a noun only when referring to the number. Remember that this number indicates the absence of quantity when it´s located to the left. While located to the right it increases the quantities.

En las noticias dijeron que la temperatura bajaría de cero este fin de semana.

News reports said the temperature would drop below zero this weekend.

Si agregas dos ceros a la derecha del número 1 se convierte en cien.

If you add two zeros to the right of the number 1 it becomes one hundred.

Todo número multiplicado por cero da como resultado cero.

Any number multiplied by zero results in zero.

Spanish adjective zero

The Spanish adjective zero indicates null values or without quantity. It’s related also to absence, lack, inexistence, nullity, nothingness. Spanish-speaking countries often use it in this context.

En mi país hay tolerancia cero en cuanto a la discriminación.

In my country, there is zero-tolerance for discrimination.

Apoyamos la campaña cero víctimas de feminicidio.

We support the zero victims of the femicide campaign.

El pretendido acuerdo de cooperación entre países nos dejó cero beneficios.

The alleged cooperation agreement between countries left us with zero benefits.

Transitive verb zero

We use the transitive verb zero when referring to adjusting the scope of a weapon. It also means to zero or reset to zero some metric.

  • Ajustar la mira/zero

Salí de cacería y tuve que ajustar la mira porque había fallado dos tiros.

I went out hunting and had to zero because I missed two shots.

  • Poner a cero/zero

Antes de pesar los ingredientes hay que poner a cero la balanza.

Before weighing the ingredients, zero the scales.

Other words and expressions for zero in Spanish language

Both of us are those who always go the extra mile. That’s why we want to give you a list of other words and expressions for zero in the Spanish language. Let’s see what they are and some examples of how to use them.

Extra words for zero in Spanish

Here are some extra words for zero in Spanish. Each one is valid according to its meaning, but they don’t always fit in the same sentence.

  • Inexistencia (Non-existence)

En el laboratorio comprobamos la inexistencia de microorganismos tóxicos en el agua.

In the laboratory, we proved zero toxic microorganisms in the water.

  • Ausencia (absence)

La ausencia de guerra no significa paz.

Zero war does not mean peace.

  • Carencia (lack)

La carencia afectiva genera hábitos codependientes en el individio.

Zero affection generates codependent habits in the individual.

  • Nada (nothing)

Ahora que te vas me quedo en la nada.

Now that you’re leaving I’m left with zero.

  • Nulidad (nullity)

El Magisterio anuló dos artículos de la última ley.

The Magisterio zeroed out two articles of the last law.

Some frequent expressions for zero in Spanish

Here are some frequent expressions for zero in Spanish. We show you the meaning and in which situations you can use them.

  • Cero absoluto/Absolute zero: Tells us that the temperature is at zero degrees.
  • Zona cero/zero zones: This is also known as the impact zone.
  • Paciente cero/patient zero: This is the first case of an epidemic outbreak that leads to further studies and investigations.
  • Foja cero/Zero point: It’s said that everything is back to square one when something returns to the starting point.
  • Cero a cero/ Zero-nil: Used when a match is tied without a goal being scored.

Don’t let your Spanish interest be zero

Zero in Spanish language refers to a wide variety of contexts that we use in mathematical terms and everyday life. You can say that in your bank account, you have five zeros in favor; this is a positive use of zero. In a not-so-positive context, you can use the expression “zero to the left” to say that something or someone is null.

Put this new vocabulary into practice and don’t let your Spanish interest be zero!

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