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Q&A #7283


Difference between "equation" and "number sentence"

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From: Suzanne A. (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Nov 15, 2001 at 20:22:00
Subject: Re: Difference between "equation" and "number sentence"

Dear Melissa,

Good question. I must admit once you asked the question I had to look around
to see what the difference might be! Here is what I found.

The Harcourt Brace dictionary defines number sentence as:

http://www.harcourtschool.com/glossary/math/gr1_2/number_s1.html
4 + 2 = 6    or    6 - 3 = 3

and equation as:

http://www.harcourtschool.com/glossary/math/definitions/equation8.html
A mathematical sentence that uses an equals sign to show that two quantities
are equal          Examples:

   10 = 3 + 7       x = 3 + 7       y = x + 4

It seems the only distinction they make is that they use "number sentence" for
primary students and "equation" for older students.

Doctor Peterson, one of the Ask Dr. Math doctors, responds to a question by
saying "An equation is any "number sentence" that says two expressions are
equal." His statement leads me to believe that you there might be a number
sentence that is not an equation.

http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/abby.02.10.01.html

Doctor Loni states in one of her responses that "In these equations, the
letter (like n or w or p or x or y, etc.) really stands for a number that will
make the number sentence true. The goal is to find out what that number is."

http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/krissie2.14.98.html

Doctor Jodi says, "First, let's write some number sentences." and then writes
the equations that correspond to the sentences.

http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/liu3.10.96.html

She seems to be using the term "number sentence" to mean the sentence
equivalent of the equation.

So, I didn't reach a conclusive answer. Perhaps another T2T Associate will
have more information for you.

 -Suzanne A., for the T2T service

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