How to Simplify Word Problems with Fractions Using Whole Numbers

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  • 0:01 A Word Problem
  • 1:04 With Fractions
  • 1:28 Removing the Fractions
  • 2:28 Solving the Problem
  • 3:00 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.

Watch this video lesson to learn how to solve word problems with fractions in them easily by turning your fractions into whole numbers. Learn what you need to do to get rid of your fractions so you can easily solve your problem.

A Word Problem

We begin with a word problem. Sam and John are going to a party. Sam is bringing one-fifth of the food for the party. He's bringing things like fried chicken and potato salad. Together, Sam and John are bringing half of the food for the whole party. What part is John responsible for?

To solve this problem, we first need to label what we are looking for and the other important parts that we need. We are looking for the part that John is responsible for, so we will label that part x. It also tells us that Sam's part is one-fifth, or 1/5. We label Sam's part with 1/5. The problem says that Sam's part plus John's part equals one-half, or 1/2. We label Sam plus John's part with 1/2.

When labeling, we can either write our information below the problem in its own little section, or we can highlight the part of the problem that talks about it and then write the number or variable next to the highlighted part. Do whichever makes sense to you.

With Fractions

Now that we've labeled everything, let's write the equation. We know it is an addition problem because the problem says that 'together Sam and John are bringing half of the food.' We write Sam's part plus John's part equals a half, substituting in our numbers and variables. We get 1/5 + x = 1/2. Oh no, we have fractions!

Removing the Fractions

Let's make our problem-solving life easier by removing the fractions. How do we do that? We do that by multiplying everything by the least common denominator. Remember that when you want to add or subtract fractions, we look for the smallest number that all of our denominators can divide evenly into.

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