Understanding negative numbers is vital to ensure a student can get the right answer to a question. A negative number is basically a number less than zero and the opposite of a positive number.

Defining a Negative Number

Negative numbers are a subsection of real numbers and can be whole numbers, fractions, and more. They are simply defined as the numbers that are less than zero. A negative number is displayed by putting a dash to the left of the number. For example, -3 would be a negative number.

Using a Negative Number in Math

When someone is doing an equation that includes a negative number, they will want to ensure they do the equation properly. If they are subtracting a large number from a smaller number, the answer is going to be negative because the answer is going to be less than zero. For example, if the equation is 3-5, the answer is going to be -2. Viewing a number line, the person will start at 3 and go to the left 5 places. This leaves them two places to the left of the zero, which would be -2.

Definition of Subtraction

Understanding subtraction and how it works is vital to understanding negative numbers. The basic subtraction definition is taking one number away from another number. If a person has 7 of something and they subtract 3, they’re left with 4. It’s the opposite of addition and can have a negative number as the answer if the number being subtracted is larger than the number they’re subtracting from.

Using a Calculator to Add or Subtract Negative Numbers

When a student needs to subtract large number, they might want to use a subtraction calculator to do this. It’s important to be careful when using a calculator, however. So long as they enter the numbers in the right order and know if the answer should be positive or negative, it can help them ensure they get the right answer.

Subtraction Methods to Help When Subtracting Positive or Negative Numbers

Subtracting small numbers can be easy to do, but when the student needs to subtract larger numbers, they might want to use one of the common subtraction methods. They can write the numbers on top of each other and, starting with the numbers on the right, do one vertical line at a time to break it down into smaller parts that are easier to subtract. This is the most common method, but it can be beneficial to learn other ones as well to make subtracting easier.

Whether a number is positive or negative is going to make a difference in the outcome of the equation. No matter if a student is using a calculator, a pencil and paper, or doing an equation in their head, understanding how negative numbers works is going to be vital.

However in real life, it’s true, we might could get along without them. Most people simply find they are convenient to simplify things a bit. Keep in mind, they’re a preference in real life, but not a necessity.