Japanese Online Newsletter Vol. 134 ゼロとレイの使い方(ゼロとレイのつかいかた)

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本日(ほんじつ)降水確率(こうすいかくりつ)は0%です」という場合(ばあい)、0をゼロ(Zero) と()むかレイ(Rei) と()むのか、どちらが(ただ)しいでしょうか。




The Word “Rei” in Japanese

Do zero and “rei” mean the same thing? I think there are only a few Japanese people who can answer this correctly.

When we say zero, it’s a mathematical way of saying nothing, but “rei” doesn’t mean nothing. Instead, “rei” means close to zero, but not exactly zero. So instead of saying there’s a 0% chance of rain today, we say rei%, not 0%.

For example, we reference a baby’s age by months or weeks in English instead of years before they turn one. In Japanese, we use the term “rei years old” to refer to a child’s age before their first birthday. Conversely, if you said there were zero traffic accidents today, it means there were no actual accidents.

This is the common usage of “zero” and “rei” in weather broadcasts. There aren’t any strict rules, but it may be good to know as trivia.

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