Three IS Greater Than Two?
Date: 10/21/2002 at 20:38:13 From: Karen Morrison Subject: Greater than less than My daughter is in 7th grade and got a few answers wrong on a test. This was the question, "Write the words for the symbols." > (with a line underneath) greater than or equal to Her answer was marked incorrect because she did not include the word "is" greater than or equal to. Every answer was marked incorrect because she didn't use "is." I am trying to find out if this is correct.
Date: 10/21/2002 at 22:57:25 From: Doctor Peterson Subject: Re: Greater than less than Hi, Karen. On one hand, this seems pretty picky. You'll certainly see plenty of lists that briefly define these symbols as "greater than or equal to" and similar phrases, without the "is"; that's all you need to show that you understand the meaning of the symbol. But if the teacher had previously made it clear that only the full version, including "is," would be accepted on a test, then it is reasonable to mark anything else wrong. Technically, >= (as we write it in text) is not a conjunction or a preposition, but a verb, and the "is" is essential in how we use it. For example, 3 > 2 means the sentence "3 IS GREATER THAN 2," not just the phrase "3 GREATER THAN 2." And for many kids, that makes a huge difference. If you were translating a sentence into algebraic terms, the latter phrase would be "2 + 3" (that is, 3 more than 2). So I can support a teacher emphasizing the precise meaning of the symbols, and asking students to give only that as an answer. I would only object if no mention had been made of this, and the students had reason to think they only had to say enough to show that they knew the general meaning of the symbols. If you have any further questions, feel free to write back. - Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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