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What are 2D Shapes? - Definition, Lesson & Quiz

  • 0:05 2D Shapes Definition
  • 1:58 Examples of 2D Shapes
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught Math at a public charter high school.

In this lesson, you will find out how a flat piece of paper will help you determine what shapes are considered 2D. You will also learn the wide variety of 2D shapes you may encounter in life.

2D Shapes Definition

'2D' stands for 2-dimensional. A 2D shape is any shape that has two dimensions. Think about what it means to have two dimensions for a moment. If we had only one dimension to work with, we could only move backwards or forwards in a line. A line is one-dimensional. If we had two dimensions, on the other hand, we could go forwards and backwards in a line and turn in any direction to start a new line. We are essentially able to travel anywhere on a flat surface. In mathematics, a flat surface is called a plane. A plane is one example of a two-dimensional shape. A plane is essentially the largest sheet of paper you will ever find. In fact, it is a sheet of paper so large that it never ends. One way of thinking about 2D shapes is anything that lays flat on a piece of paper.

2d shapes

Take out a piece of paper, and place it on your desk. Notice how flat it is. Now take any nearby object, place it on your piece of paper, and trace around it. Look at your shape. What does it look like? Congratulations, you have just drawn a 2D shape! This is another way you can think of 2D shapes: 2D shapes are any shape you can trace from an object on a flat piece of paper.

Take a cube and trace it on a piece of paper and you will get a square shape. Take a soda can and trace it on a piece of paper. Depending on how you lay the soda can down, you will get either a circle or a rectangle. Try it out and see for yourself.

spool circle

spool rectangle

Examples of 2D Shapes

You can find 2D shapes pretty much everywhere you look. Remember back when you drew your first house. Do you remember the shapes you used to make your house? Yes, most likely you used a square for the house and a triangle for the roof. Add in a few rectangles and you have your door, windows, and a chimney. The shapes you used to draw your first house (your square, triangle, and rectangle) are all examples of 2D shapes. Why? Because all these shapes can be laid flat on a piece of paper. These are shapes you can trace from other objects as well. Look around you and you will see all these shapes around you in the real world as well.

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