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How can we pronounce the number "0" in British English? I mean: telephone numbers, room numbers etc.

Which form is correct and where (why)?

  1. o
  2. oh or Total English Starter Students' book at page 17

Do we use "nought" or "zero" in science in British English?

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    WRITE specifically? Why would you spell it out rather than just using the numeral?
    – Catija
    Feb 27, 2017 at 16:26
  • I do not mean spell. I want to know which form to use. I have seen both forms. Feb 27, 2017 at 16:29
  • I'm still not sure what you mean. If someone tells me they're in room 307... I write "307"... I don't write three zero seven. Similarly, if someone's phone number is 292.555.2020 I use the numerals. Again, why are you trying to write it out rather than use numerals? Please give a specific example.
    – Catija
    Feb 27, 2017 at 16:31
  • If my edit changed your question the wrong way, feel free to roll back.
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 27, 2017 at 16:37
  • In the book Total English Starter Students book at page 17 is example 020.8922.7255 and oh-two etc. What is correct? Oh or o? Feb 27, 2017 at 16:37

1 Answer 1

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In UK English noun nought does mean zero. This is different from naught, which means nothing. In US English they are spelling variants of the same word, and naught is the more standard usage for both meanings.

When reading a number out loud many English speakers will say o (pronounced owe) as in the letter O when meaning the digit zero.

So: "room 702" is often said "Room Seven O(we) Two" while "Seven Zero Two" is also used. I don't believe I've ever heard someone say "Seven Nought Two". Similarly O(we) is used when reading out phone numbers, though my preference is to use zero when stating my own phone number.

But I think I hear "dial zero for the operator" far more frequently than "dial O(we) for operator."

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  • Worth noting that the 0 (zero) spoke as O (owe) thing is recent. After all, when the phone company put letters together with certain keys, the letter O went on digit 6, and the digit 0 is by itself. At the time, phone makers believed no one would get them mixed up.
    – cobaltduck
    Feb 27, 2017 at 19:50
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    I would say, though, that in US English we don't say "naught" very much at all; I can't remember when I last heard someone call it "a naught". It's pretty much always zero or oh.
    – stangdon
    Feb 27, 2017 at 23:30

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