Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

#AtoZ, 2014: Z is for Zero the Hero in a Repeat Performance

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

*Drum roll* *Bugles* *Wild applause* Ta dah: Introducing Zero the Hero.

Zero the Hero by Joan Holub, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Zero the Hero by Joan Holub, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Zero the Hero is a favorite character in kindergarten classes even though he is a bit mysterious and doesn’t like to show himself. He sneaks into classrooms on the eves of the 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th days of school and leaves poems, cartoons, games, arts and crafts projects (related to  himself, of course), and even some treats. Like Santa Claus, though, he does finally appear: on Day 100 in full Zero the Hero regalia bringing even more sweet treats and number projects.

Zero teaches the children about counting to 100, counting by tens, and using zeros as place holders. He adds to the fun of kindergarten and builds student interest in numbers and math.

I wrote about Zero once before when I had reached my 200th post: Zero the Hero Helps Celebrate My 200th Post. (Now I am at post #332.)

Here he is again:

Zeros can be fun, but they can also be tricky. Sometimes they don’t like to follow rules.

Zero: noun, adjective, or verb?

First of all, sometimes zeros pretend to nouns, and at other times they pretend to be adjectives or verbs. It all seems to depend on their mood and what they ate for breakfast. (Donuts=good day. Plain old oatmeal=bad day. That’s how you operate, too, isn’t it? Admit it.)

Zero as a noun:  zero, zeros* (plural)

Although plural nouns that end in o usually have the -es ending, zero doesn’t follow this rule.  *Zeros is Webster’s preferred spelling for more than one zero,  but Webster does accept zeroes as the inferior second cousin: okay to use if you really must. (Webster rolls his eyes when you do spell the plural noun as zeroes.)

Is zero a number?
The prospect of Garfunkel getting a job paying $1 million is zero.
The score of the Phillies vs. the Dodgers was zero to zer0.

Zero can combine with other nouns to make compound nouns.

zero gravity
zero hour
zero population growth

Zero as a verb:  zero, zeroes*, zeroed, zeroing.
Compound verb: zero in, zero in on, zero out

(Aha. See how quirky this Zero fellow is. When Zero is a noun, he doesn’t want the -es ending, but when he a verb, he does. Go figure.)

The CEO zeroes in on every item in the budget.
Every month my teenager zeroes out his allowance.
My English teacher zeroes in on every spelling and grammar mistake that I make.

Zero as an adjective:

When zero combines with another word to form an adjective, use a hyphen before the noun.

The company promises a zero-defect product.
The weather man reported zero-zero conditions: zero visibility and zero ceiling
Zero-based budgeting requires that budget makers to justify every expenditure they make.
The CEO zeroes in on every item in the zero-based budget.

Zeros and hyphens: look it up.

Some compound words with zero use a hyphen, while others do not.  To be safe on which is which, check your dictionary.

So, zeros break the rules, but they are handy fellows to have around. Anyway, the more zeros after the other big numbers on my paycheck, the better I like them!


And now how about Zero-based Thinking?  Read this article for writers by Matthew Eaton, posted on C.S. Lakin’s blog, Live. Write. Thrive.   You’ll find some good advice on what to do with those unpublished manuscripts stashed in drawers, hidden from all eyes. There is hope!

Janice Hall Heck, retired educator, blogger, and nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ, is quite possibly a grammar geek.

logo 2.2Oh Heck! Another Writing Quirk,  theme for the amazing 2014 A to Z Challenge, suggests ways to improve our writing by avoiding and/or eliminating troublesome bug-a-boos that cramp our writing style.

Look for a list of posts for the #AtoZ, 2014 Challenge (Writing Quirks) here:  #AtoZ: Q is for Quirky Index and a Q Post Round-Up

Meow for now.  =<^!^>=

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9 thoughts on “#AtoZ, 2014: Z is for Zero the Hero in a Repeat Performance

  1. I miss Zero the Hero. He was such a huge part of the Kinder experience for all three of my babies. We remember him fondly. That zero…it’s tricky!

    • Every time I think of Zero I get a big smile on my face. I loved visiting the kindergarten classes on Zero Days and checking out the fun. (I was a principal and got to see the most exciting developments in kindergarten.)

  2. Zero the Hero sounds fun! And he’s got you to the finishing line – we survived!

  3. A neat way to reach the finish line Janice. I can see why Zero would be your hero. Some great posts on the way through the month. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    • Thanks, Tom. But this isn’t good-bye. I’ll be stopping by to read some more of your posts. Hopefully we’ll cross paths in the blogosphere. And there is always the 2015 AtoZ!

  4. Pingback: #AtoZ: Q is for Quirky Index and a Q Post Round-Up | JaniceHeck

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