Counting Numbers: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Are Counting Numbers?
  • 0:32 Everyday Examples
  • 1:46 Non Counting Numbers
  • 2:35 Simplified Fractions
  • 3:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Julie Crenshaw

Julie has a Master's Degree in Math Education with a Community College Teaching Emphasis, and has been teaching college mathematics for over 10 years.

In this lesson, discover the counting numbers (also called natural numbers and positive integers). Explore the many everyday ways we use counting numbers in our lives.

What Are Counting Numbers?

Counting numbers are the set of numbers that we use to learn how to count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on. They are also called natural numbers—maybe since they feel natural to us because they are naturally the first numbers we learn. Sometimes they are also referred to as positive integers. In this lesson, we will learn what counting numbers are and what they are not and also look at some examples for clarification.

Everyday Examples

You might be wondering why we have the counting numbers, or why they are important. Well, in math, just like in life, we like to categorize and group things together that are alike, have something in common, or share some special property. We group movies into different genres (comedy, drama, sci-fi) and music into different types (country, R&B, pop, rock). We can even sort our socks by type! There are dress socks, boot socks, striped socks, hiking socks, etc. And then you have your basic socks—nothing too frilly or complicated, just regular, plain socks.

Counting numbers are like your basic socks, nothing too fancy, just 1, 2, 3… and we use them every day to do things like:

  • Count how many days left until vacation (like 27)
  • Count how many miles you've driven (like 1,390)
  • Count how many calories are in that slice of cheesecake (like 250)
  • Count how many pairs of shoes are in your sister's closet (like 10 or 45)
  • Identify a football or basketball player by their jersey number (like 2 or 12)
  • Count socks to make sure you have matching pairs (like 8 or 11—why is there always one sock missing?)

Non Counting Numbers

So, we have discussed what counting numbers are, but what about what they aren't?

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