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Integers in Word Problems

Instructor: Sabrina Hairston

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

Learn what integers are and how to identify them. Get tips on how to solve word problems that have integers in them, and see an example of how to do it.

What are Integers?

Imagine it is cold outside. Yesterday and the day before it snowed without end. But now the sun has come out and things are starting to warm up. The snow is melting and it is 50 degrees outside. When you look out your window you can still see the snow.


Back yard snow 3


Now, imagine a different scene. The waves are crashing and the sand is so warm under your feet. The beach has never been more beautiful. You look out your front window and see something like this. Today the temperature is a warm 83 degrees.


Beach sunrise


The temperature outside is a good way to remind yourself of what an integer is. If it's warm outside, the temperature is going to be a positive integer, such as 83 degrees (F). If it's cold outside, it may be zero degrees (F). If it is really cold, it may even get below zero and the temperature will become a negative integer such as -12 degrees (F). Temperature is a good way to remember what integers are.

An integer is any number that is not a fraction, decimal, or mixed number. It can be a positive or negative number. Examples of integers include 3, 2, 1, 0, -1, -2, -3, and so on in both directions.

Integers in Word Problems

Let's look at an example of a word problem involving integers:

The weather in Far-away-land has been crazy. On Monday, the temperature was a hot 99 degrees Fahrenheit. On Tuesday, the temperature was a cold 0 degrees. Wednesday had a comfortable temperature of 87 degrees. Thursday brought bone-chilling cold temperatures of -30 degrees. Friday was also cold, having a temperature of -12 degrees. What is the sum of the temperatures from each day?

Solving Word Problems with Integers

Like all word problems, in order to solve the example above the first thing we should do is read the problem. After reading the problem it is a good idea to look at the question. You must identify what you are being asked to do or find. The above example is asking for the sum of the temperatures. Sum means we are going to add.

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