Name: Robyn Ernst

Who is asking: Parent
Level: Elementary

How can you get 14, with 5 ODD numbers? My daughter is in the 5th grade and this was one of their problems and I have racked my brain with different combinations and cannot come up with it.


Hi Robyn,

This has to be a trick question. You cannot get a result of 14 by adding five odd numbers, because the sum of five odd numbers has to be odd. Now, what is the trick exactly? Well it could be many things:

  1. - Use five DIGITS instead of five numbers:
    11 has two digits, so you can get 11 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 14.

  2. - Use some multiplications instead of additions:
    (1 x 1) + 3 + 5 + 5 = 14.

  3. - Use a silly joke:
    "All prime numbers are odd numbers. Except 2, which is the only prime number that is even. This peculiarity makes 2 a little odd. Therefore, 2 is an odd number. So we can write 2 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 14".

Some caution must be exerted when giving an answer to a trick question: Some teachers of the dogmatic type might think that the answer they have in mind is witty, and all the other ones are just silly. So I cannot point at any of these as being the right one. It may be yet another trick answer that the teacher is looking for.

I hope this helps,
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