The Math Forum

Chameleon Graphing

Sam's Home ||  Chameleon Home ||  Chameleon Graphing Java Applet ||  Ask Dr. Math

Chameleon Home
The Line
The Plane
 Finding Points
 Graphing Points
For Grownups

Finding Points in the Plane

We can find every point in the plane using two numbers. These numbers are called coordinates. We write a point's coordinates inside parentheses, separated by a comma, like this: (5, 6). Sometimes coordinates written this way are called an ordered pair.

    * The first number in an ordered pair is called the x-coordinate. The x-coordinate tells us how far the point is along the x-axis.

    * The second number is called the y-coordinate. The y-coordinate tells us how far the point is along the y-axis.

Let's try an example.

A fly is sitting in the plane.

fly at (4,3)

Sam knows that the fly is at point (4, 3). What should he do?

Sam starts at the origin. So far, he has not moved along the x-axis or the y-axis, so he is at point (0, 0).

Sam at (0, 0) and fly at (4,3)

Because he wants to find (4, 3), Sam moves four units along the x-axis.

Sam at (4, 0) and fly at (4,3)

Next, Sam turns around and shoots his tongue three units. Sam's tongue goes straight up, in the same direction that the y-axis travels.

Sam at (4, 0) eating fly at (4,3)

Sam has found point (4, 3). He eats the fly happily.


Please send questions, comments, and suggestions
to Ursula Whitcher

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Home || The Math Library || Quick Reference || Search || Help 

© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.