I had the question: 1994 到 2004 年间,不能自理的老年人怎么样?

2 answer choices were:

B. 比例下降
D. 比例为零

I see that 零 can mean 'wither and fall'. In English we can say e.g. 'The numbers have withered.' to mean a fairly drastic reduction in numbers of something.

My question is then: are B and D the same answer using different words, or does 为零 mean 'nearly zero, as zero'?

3 Answers 3


为= being / is

零= zero

Answer D: 比例为零 (proportion is zero) means the proportion of elderly people who can't take care of themselves in the population is zero. (no more elderly people who can't take care of themselves) . That makes no sense.

The writer of the question might had phrased it wrong, or the answer is just obviously incorrect.

Answer D should had been 比例增减为零(proportion increase or decrease is zero) which mean 'no change'

When 零 means 'wither and fall'(凋零), it only refers to flower petals or leaves, and is mostly used in a poetic sense; When 零 means 'drop and shatter' as in (零落), it is mostly used in a poetic sense also. For example: "tears drop and shatter(涕零)"

  • when 零 means "wither and fall", it can also refer to "tears", other than "plant, leaves, and flowers". There is an idom 感激涕零, meaning "someone is so grateful/moved that they shed tears".
    – Huang
    Jan 12, 2017 at 14:00
  • Agree. But "dropping tears like showers(涕零)" is also a poetic phrase. Answer edited.
    – Tang Ho
    Jan 12, 2017 at 14:43

为零are two words here: is zero. 比例为零 = 比例是零,but 为 is bit more formal than 是.

Most of the time, 零 means zero. With only a few exceptions: 凋零,零落;零 = wither and fall; used on flowers, leaves, people, etc 拾零,零碎;零 = tiny, shattered stuff; used on memories, errands, etc


The two answers are different. And 为零 means that is zero.

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