In this number:0.000023, what will be a natural way to express the idea of the number of zeros placed to the left of the number

This number has zeros in front of it.

And what about this sentence to tell a little kid:

Write a number with 4 zeros in front of it.

Is the use of "in front of" natural?

P.S. Corrected the error

  • 2
    Your number is a decimal fraction. But I don't think it's a good idea to talk about there being 4 zeros in front of the first non-zero digit, because it's not a universally followed convention that we always write an extra zero before the decimal point. If you told me your decimal fraction had 4 leading zeros, I'd expect the number to be something like n.00001 (where n might or might not be included as another 0). Apr 16, 2019 at 13:19
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's more about learning mathematical notation than learning English. Apr 16, 2019 at 13:21
  • It's not about mathematics but the way to express this idea in english in words(other than than saying it the way it's spoken). Is it right? And sorry it's "0.000023". @FumbleFingers Apr 16, 2019 at 13:39
  • No - it is about mathematical notation. Specifically, it's about whether or not a mathematician would count that optional zero before the decimal point (and whether or not it's meaningful to refer to the two non-zero digits as "a number"). Apr 16, 2019 at 13:50
  • No I'm just asking is it okay to say: "There are 4 zeros in front of this". Or "Put 4 zeros in front of this"(while pointing at it). P.S. I corrected the error. There are 4 zeros after the decimal and the one before the decimal isn't counted.....@FumbleFingers Apr 16, 2019 at 13:56

2 Answers 2


Beware. The number is NOT 23.

Two and three are merely the final two digits of the number. (There are all kinds of complicated terminologies that come into play here, as per the Stackexchange reference below, but they are not necessary to the answer).

For practical purposes, the number is 0.000023. That's to say: zero point zero zero zero zero two three.

So you can say that there are three zeroes following the point before two three.

But it doesn't really make things any clearer.

For purposes of clarity I suggest you stick to zero point zero zero zero two three.

Banks and phone companies frequently arrange such digits in groups to make them clearer but (as far as I know) you can't do this with digits following the point.

If "the kid" is really smart, s/he may grasp that each zero after the point represents a further division by 10 but that's by the by.

By the way, in some countries (and currencies), a comma is used in the place of a point in accountancy.

In Portugal, where I live, nine thousand three hundred and twenty four euros and 19 cents would be shown thus: €9.324,19

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_number https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/64042/what-are-the-numbers-before-and-after-the-decimal-point-referred-to-in-mathemati


There aren't "four zeros in front of the number" The number is "0.000023" and there is nothing except the word "is" in front of it.

Instead, there are four zeros after the decimal point (and before the first non-zero digit.

It is beyond me why you would want to make a child write down meaningless numbers but...

Write a number with four zeros after the decimal point and before the first non-zero digit.

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