Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

Pronumerals

```Date: 05/14/2002 at 22:52:34
From: Amar
Subject: pronumeral

Hi,
What is a pronumeral? I cannot find the answer anywhere.
Thanks.
```

```
Date: 05/15/2002 at 09:33:09
From: Doctor Peterson
Subject: Re: pronumeral

Hi, Amar.

I'd never heard this term used, though I could easily imagine what it
would mean: the math equivalent of a pronoun, a word like "it" that
takes the place of a specific noun (like "dog"). So a pronumeral
would simply be a letter used in an equation to stand for a number,
which we more often call a variable. (The difference appears to be
that "variable" is sometimes taken to imply that the value can
change, whereas a "pronumeral" may also be a "constant", an
unspecified value that is not considered to be changing. For most
purposes, this distinction is not important.)

I did a Google search for the word, and most of the sites that use it
are Australian, so it must be popular in the Australian educational
community. It sounds like it may have been introduced elsewhere but
did not catch on in most of the world:

http://www.fractions-plus.com/Ord%20Alg/Variables.rtf

Names of numbers are called numerals, while names for
ordinary objects are called nouns.  One mathematics project
referred to variables as pronumerals in order to stress
that the letters used in algebra are like pronouns.  If you
are grammatically inclined, think "pronumeral" when you
see the word "variable".  Just as pronoun may refer to a
person in general rather than to some specific person, a
variable may refer to a number in general rather than to
some specific number.

Here is one Australian site that defines the term:

Pronumerals/use.htm

I didn't find any sites that clearly distinguish "pronumeral"
from "variable", just several that say you are supposed to know both
terms.

- Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
```
Associated Topics:
High School Definitions
Middle School Definitions
Middle School Number Sense/About 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
Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search