Drexel dragonThe Math ForumDonate to the Math Forum

Ask Dr. Math - Questions and Answers from our Archives
_____________________________________________
Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math
_____________________________________________

Adding and Subtracting Integers


Date: 12/31/97 at 20:07:08
From: Tracey
Subject: How to add and subtract integers

I need help on how to add and subtract integers. An example of a 
problem would be 12 + (-4) = ?. What I do is just add the problem, but 
the answer turns out to be 16. Then I would check it on my calculator 
and the answers is 8. I need help on the steps, and if you could 
explain how you did each step it would be very helpful.

Thank you.


Date: 01/09/98 at 14:33:21
From: Doctor Sonya
Subject: Re: How to add and subtract integers

Tracey,
    
I can understand your frustrations in dealing with positive and 
negative numbers.  It is a very difficult topic, but I know that you 
will get it with practice.

When I think of adding and subtracting negative numbers, I always 
imagine a number line, like this:

    <---------------0-------------->

where each little dash stands for a number. The negative numbers are 
on the left of 0 and the positive ones are on the right. If I want to 
find 2 on the number line, I just go 2 spaces to the right. If I want 
to find -3, I go 3 spaces to the left.  

When you want to add two numbers together, think about moving on the 
number line. For example, if I wanted to find the answer to:

    3 + 5 = ?

I would first move three spaces, and them move 5 more spaces. This 
would put me 8 spaces over, and the answer to 3 + 5 is 8:

   <---------------0---3-----8------>
                       3  +  5  

The same principle works with negative numbers, except that you move 
to the left instead of to the right. Say you have the question:

   (-3) + (-2) = ?

To find the answer I'm going to move three spaces to the left, and 
then 2 more spaces to the left:

   <-----------(-5)---(-2)--0---------------->
                -3  +  -2 

If the two numbers are of different signs, you just have to move 
different directions along the number line. Let's say I have:

   (-3) + 4 = ?

Now, the -3 means that you move three spaces to the left, and the 4 
means that you move 4 spaces to the right. Where is this going to put 
you on the number line?

   <--(-5)-(-4)-(-3)-(-2)-(-1)-0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12->

Still thinking...

.

.

.

Hmmmmmm.

.
.
.

No answer yet...





You say that the answer is 1?  Right!  Good job.

Here are some more examples for you to practice with.

      2 + 4 =
   (-3) + 8 =
   3 + (-5) =
(-5) + (-6) =
   8 + (-5) =
      5 + 2 =
(-4) + (-3) =

Write us back if you have more questions.

-Doctor Sonya,  The Math Forum
 Check out our web site!  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   
    
Associated Topics:
Elementary Addition
Middle School Negative Numbers

Search the Dr. Math Library:


Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):
 
Click only once for faster results:

[ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.]

all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase
parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

_____________________________________
Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search
_____________________________________

Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994-2013 The Math Forum
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/