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I came across this sentence:

I have zero friends

Why the plurality? Seems pretty counterintuitive to me. Is there a general grammar rule behind it?

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1 Answer 1

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Singular is only used with one or 1 or words that mean exactly one, like single.

So, if you rephrase as:

I don't have a single friend.

It's singular.

But zero, though it's not greater than one, it's not one, either, so you use the plural form.

Also, as Adam said in the comments, numbers that are equivalent to 1 like 1.0 or e(2πi ) would still get the plural form.

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    And it must be "one," "a," or "1," not just something equal to one. I have 1 friend. I have 1.0 friends. I have e^(2 pi i) friends.
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 17:37

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