Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Jana, a student:

Hello, i am a student in year 8 doing Algebra. My Teacher is doing a sheet with us and it asks us to find Like Terms.
The Questions have sentences and you have to find the Like Term. I was wondering, does it matter when there is numbers that are different? are they still like terms?
I'm really confused, i'll write out an example of the questions, so you know what i mean.

It says to find the like terms:
(1.) c- 3c + 7c
(2.) 4x - 7x + 5x
(3.) 3xy + 4 xy

your help will be much appreciated. Thanks Jana

Hi Jana,

Terms are pieces of the expression separated by plus or minus signs. Like terms are terms that have the exact same variable parts, that is the same variables raised to the same powers. Thus in the expression

2x + y - x + 4y

the terms are + 2x, + y, - x and + 4y. The like terms are

+ 2x and - x ; and +y and + 4y

So in this expression there are two kinds of like terms, the x terms and the y terms.

In this expression

4x - 3xy + y + 2x

there are three kinds of like terms, x terms, y terms and xy terms, so the like terms are

+ 4x and + 2x; + y; and - 3xy

In each of the three expressions in your question there is only one kind of like terms.

There is a nice page on like terms on the Purple Math site.


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