“Which one has two zero and two four?” Answer Arguments

I recently came across the following puzzle:

Which one has two zero and two four?

(A) 0024
(B) 2024
(C) 0044

..and after posing it to several friends and seeing their arguments, I came up with my own answer:

Since the question is unattributed, and I could find no particular original source for the puzzle, I don’t think it can be genuinely proposed that the grammar is “bad” because whether the grammar is bad would depend on whether the writer of the question were bound by particular English-language style constraints, and general English has no such restrictions (more about that, at length here).

We also don’t know the context of the answers, so is the question made by someone bound by the style restrictions of Strunk & White? Chicago Manual of Style or Associated Press? Are the answers part of a serial number or the ‘last four’ on a social security number, or telephone number? Different English users around the US say the last four digits of a telephone number differently, so describing the number this way may simply be a style preference of their own, although arguably rather ambiguously (and perhaps trolling).


None. My reason is “none” because, if we are interpreting the word “two” into “2”, and the same for the others, then it would be reasonable also to interpret the “one” into 1. If the question were instead worded:

Which one has two zero and two four?

(1) 0024
(1) 2024
(1) 0044

..then I would answer, “the second one,” but there is no “1” option, only letters. The question isn’t, “Which letter has…”

Even if we need not interpret “one” so literally, I still think the answer could be “the second one” to use the noun that the puzzle uses, in order to remain consistent, and still match the middle option being the answer, since the puzzle still wouldn’t be asking which-letter.

Some have argued that 44 is a viable answer, since “and” can also mean “plus,” as if the question were asking what the sum of 20 and 24 were, which would equal 24, but that wouldn’t really explain the two zeros prior the sum.

I think not knowing the context compounds the ambiguity about ‘why’ the question doesn’t pluralize zeros and fours, and therefore could be a clue about the questioner’s intention as itself a clue to the context, or perhaps that the questioner is an ESL speaker who is using their native language’s prescriptive constructs when speaking the numbers, translating them aloud.

I think taking after the example of converting the two to 2, zero to 0, and four to 4, then in like manner we ought also convert one to 1, and since there is no answer with a 1 in it, then “none” is the best answer.

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