Have you ever looked at a math question and had no idea what it was asking you to do? Maybe you understand mathematical equations and algebraic expressions, but when a question is phrased as a sentence, you don’t know where to start. Maybe you just don’t understand the terms being used, or can’t remember what they mean. This module will help you understand the language of math so that you can apply your knowledge when solving math problems
Word problems show the real world application of math concepts, so they are an essential part of learning math. However, many people find solving word problems difficult or intimidating. You may be comfortable with the math concepts, but how do you convert the words into a math problem? To help you translate words into math, there are specific keywords you can look for in a question. These keywords indicate the math operation(s) you should use to solve the problem.
This is a list of commonly used keywords that are used to identify each math operation. Look for these keywords when solving word problems to help you translate the words into math.
add, sum, more, more than, increase, increased by, together, combined, total of, in total, plus, added to, also, in all, join, both, gain, and
Tan weighs 71 kilograms. Minh weighs 9 kilograms more than Tan. How much does Minh weigh?
Therefore, Minh weighs 79 kilograms.
subtract, difference, difference between, less, less than, decrease, decreased by, minus, fewer, fewer than, reduce, deduct, left over, remaining, remove, take away, fell
Marcella has 6 fewer male cousins than female cousins. Let ƒ represent the number of female cousins. Write an expression for the number of male cousins.
multiplied by, of, by, times, product, product of, factor of, double, triple, twice, rate
Kailey is putting in a flower garden. She wants to have eight times as many tulips as sunflowers. Let s represent the number of sunflowers. Write an expression for the number of tulips.
divide, per, out of, ratio, rate, quotient of, percent, split, equal parts/groups, evenly, average, share, shared between, shared equally
Three friends went out to dinner and agreed to split the bill evenly. The bill was $79.35. How much should each person pay?
is, are, was, were, will be, gives, yields, answer, equates to, makes, produces, results, same as
Jeannette has $5 and $10 bills in her wallet. The number of fives is three more than six times the number of tens. Let t represent the number of tens and ƒ represent the number of fives. Write an equation to represent the number of fives.
|number of fives||is||3 more than||6 times the number of tens|
Therefore, the final equation for the number of fives is: ƒ = 3 + 6t
Examples are derivatives from: Prealgebra - opens in a new window by Lynn Marecek & Mary Anne Anthony-Smith is licensed under CC BY 4.0 - opens in a new window / A derivative from the original work - opens in a new window
Do you have difficulty solving mathematical word problems? Do you need a strategy to tackle word problems? You’re not alone. Many students have difficulty with this area of math.
This strategy can be utilized for all math word problems as well as math-related word problems in other courses such as chemistry or physics. After practicing the step-by-step method, you will find solving math problems less daunting.