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Is Zero Positive or Negative?


Date: 01/26/2001 at 15:33:27
From: beth
Subject: 0?

Is zero a positive or a negative number? People consider it neither. I 
don't get it.


Date: 01/26/2001 at 15:52:30
From: Doctor Jaffee
Subject: Re: 0?

Hi Beth,

In order for a number to be positive, it has to be larger than 0.   
So, 0 is not positive.

In order for a number to be negative, it has to be smaller than 0.   
So, 0 is not negative.

Therefore, 0 is neither negative nor positive.

I hope this helps.

- Doctor Jaffee, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   


Date: 01/26/2001 at 15:54:14
From: Doctor Roy
Subject: Re: 0?

Hello,

Thanks for writing to Dr. Math.

Let's reconsider what it means to be positive or negative. To be 
positive, a number must be greater than zero. To be negative, a number 
must be less than zero. If you read these two definitions carefully, 
you notice that the number zero is not covered by either case. So, the 
concept of positive and negative includes almost all the numbers, but 
it does not consider zero. Zero is considered special. By definition, 
it is neither positive or negative. 

Think of the number line as split into three parts: negative, 0, and 
positive, as follows:

      -5   -4   -3   -2   -1    0    1    2    3    4    5
   <---|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|--->

   <------ negative------------>0<-------------positive------>

I hope this helps, and please feel free to write back.

- Doctor Roy, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   
    
Associated Topics:
Elementary Number Sense/About Numbers

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