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Positive Numbers: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is A Positive Number?
  • 1:00 Abstract And Real-World
  • 2:00 What About Zero?
  • 2:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kimberlee Davison

Kim has a Ph.D. in Education and has taught math courses at four colleges, in addition to teaching math to K-12 students in a variety of settings.

Numbers can be categorized a variety of ways. In this lesson, learn about positive numbers. Find out how to determine if a number is positive using some simple guidelines.

What Is A Positive Number?

A positive number is any number that represents more than zero of anything. If you are talking about dollars in your bank account, a positive number will definitely make you feel positive too.

Positive numbers are possibly the only kind of number you came across until after elementary school. In fact, until you hit advanced arithmetic or pre-algebra, you might have just referred to positive numbers as 'numbers' and not been aware that there was anything else. Positive numbers include the natural or counting numbers like 1,2,3,4,5, as well as fractions like 3/5 or 232/345, and decimals like 44.3. Even irrational numbers like pi or the square root of two are positive unless you put a negative sign in front of them.

The opposite of positive number are negative numbers like -2 or -5/9. These are values that are less than zero.

Abstract and Real World Positive Numbers

In math classes, you often are required to think about numbers in the abstract without connecting them to some amount of something in the real world. In the abstract, positive numbers are the numbers to the right of zero on the number line.

Number line

In the real world, however, positive numbers are connected to amounts of something that are more than zero, like dollars in your bank account. You could have a negative number of dollars, but you couldn't withdraw it. It is a debt you owe. On the other hand, the number of cookies you have in your cookie jar is always positive. You can't really eat a cookie before it is baked the same way you spend money before it is earned.

Another way positive numbers might come up in the real world is in measuring a distance above some reference point, such as ground level. For example, the tip of the Empire State Building is a positive number of feet above ground, while a well's bottom would be below ground and so indicated by a negative number.

Empire State Building

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