Introduction to Negative Numbers

Introduction to Negative Numbers
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  • 0:01 Negative Numbers
  • 1:15 The Number Line
  • 3:23 Ordering Negative Numbers
  • 4:15 Example
  • 5:14 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 see how negative numbers appear on the number line. Learn how they are ordered and how you can easily order a set of negative numbers that are given to you.

Negative Numbers

We all know how to count 1, 2, and 3, especially when playing hide and seek. We may even skip a few numbers while counting and playing. But what about negative numbers, our numbers less than zero? While we may not use these numbers to count, they are just as important when working with math problems. You will recognize negative numbers by the little minus or negative sign in front of them. You can think of that negative sign as telling you that you are looking at a number that much less than 0. So, -7 is 7 less than 0.

0 - 7 = -7

Any number with a negative sign in front is a negative number. -10, -20, and -1 are all examples of negative numbers. For every positive number, there is an equivalent negative number. In this video lesson, we will learn about these negative numbers and how they are ordered.

The Number Line

Think back to your number line.

negative numbers

Do you see how to the right of the 0, we have the counting numbers that we use when playing hide and seek? Now look to the left of the 0. What do you see? That's right, you see negative numbers! All the numbers to the left of the 0 zero are negative numbers. Do you see how they match the numbers to the right of the 0? Going one space to the right of the 0 gives us 1, but going one space to the left of the 0 gives us -1. The negative numbers are the exact opposite of the positive numbers that we are used to. For example, the number 10 is 10 spaces to the right of the 0. So, what does that mean for the number -10? It means that -10 is 10 spaces to the left of the 0. Yes, negative numbers go to the left of 0, and positive numbers go to the right of 0.

Because negative numbers are the opposite of positive numbers, the larger the number after the negative sign, the smaller it is. Because large positive numbers are large, seemingly large negative numbers are really small. For example, -500 is a lot smaller than -100. We can see this on the number line. You know that going to the left on the number line means that our numbers are getting smaller and smaller. Looking at our negative numbers, we see that as they are getting smaller, the number after the negative sign seems to be getting bigger. First we see -1; then we see -2, -10, -100, -500, -1,000 and so on.

Ordering Negative Numbers

When we need to order negative numbers from the smallest to the greatest, we have to take this into account. If we ignore the negative sign, an ordered list of negative numbers will look as if it is backwards. For example, take a look at this ordered list: -10, -8, -6, -4, -2

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