How to Add Three or More Numbers with Four or More Digits

Instructor: Sabrina Hairston

Sabrina has taught a variety of subjects and grades as a substitute teacher and will complete her MAT in 2016.

In this lesson, learn step-by-step how you can add three or more numbers that have four or more digits. Brush up on place value and find out how it can help you solve addition problems like this.

Place Value and Why It's Important for Addition

When adding larger numbers that have three or more digits, the key is to remember the concept of place value. This is 'the value of a digit depending on its place in a number.' For example, 19,829 has 1 ten-thousand, 9 thousands, 8 hundreds, 2 tens, and 9 ones.

Draw Your Columns and Label Them

Once we know the value of each number we can begin to set up the equation. An equation is a math problem. To add large numbers, we must line them all up correctly. To do this, it is helpful to draw four columns on your paper. Beginning from right to left label each column with the correct place value (ones, tens, hundreds, thousands).

Line it Up

Using the numbers from your equation, put each number in the correct place value column. If your problem reads 1576 + 3214 + 6319 + 8720, then it should be lined up like this:

Place Value Lesson

Notice how all numbers in the ones place (the numbers on the far right) are lined up. All numbers in the tens place (the next place value to the left) are lined up, and so on. Now that we have set up our problem, we can add.


When we add large numbers, we begin adding from right to left. For this problem we would start adding the numbers in the ones place: 6 + 4 + 9 + 0. Together those numbers equal 19. We would write our 9 for our answer in the ones place. We would then carry our 1 over to the top of the tens place.

For the rest of the problem, we would follow the same process. For the tens place, add 7 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 (not forgetting the one you carried over). This column's answer is 12. So we write the 2 in the tens column and carry the 1 over to the hundreds place.

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