Translating a Multiplication Statement into an Algebraic Expression

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  • 0:02 A Multiplication Statement
  • 1:40 Translating it
  • 3:15 Example 1
  • 4:01 Example 2
  • 4:37 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.

After watching this video lesson, you will be able to translate a multiplication problem that you hear or read from words into an algebraic expression that you can solve. Learn what key words to look for.

A Multiplication Statement

Math problems come in all kinds of forms. There are math problems that you get on your math tests and quizzes, and then there are the real-world math problems that you get in everyday life and at work. In this video lesson, we take a look at translating those multiplication problems that we might come across in everyday life and at work.

These problems come in the form of a multiplication statement, a multiplication problem stated using words. We will see how we can take such a problem and turn it into an algebraic expression, a mathematical problem stated using numbers and symbols. These algebraic expressions are the math problems that you are very familiar with when taking math tests and quizzes. In this lesson, though, we just cover how to translate our multiplication statements into algebraic expressions. How to solve these algebraic expressions is covered in other lessons.

An example of a real-world problem that we might encounter could be the following. Imagine that you are renovating your house. You are at the carpet store looking at samples. To figure out how much carpet you need to buy, you need to figure out the area of the house that needs new carpet.

Only one room in your house needs new carpet, the living room. You have already measured the length and width of your living room. So to figure out the area of this room, you ask yourself, 'How much is twenty times fifteen?' To figure out the answer, you first need to translate your question into an algebraic expression that you can solve.

Translating It

How can you do this? You first need to look for your key words. Your key words include your number words and your words that describe your operation, in this case, multiplication. You also look at what your statement is really saying or asking. Your number words also include words that represent a variable or an unknown number.

Looking at your question, you see that your key words are 'how much,' 'is,' 'twenty,' 'times' and 'fifteen.' Your number words are 'how much', 'twenty', and 'fifteen.' The key phrase 'how much' represents an unknown number that you can use x to represent in your algebraic expression. The word that tells you what kind of operation to use is the word 'times.' The word 'is' represents an equal sign and how the question is set up tells you what will equal what. In this case, your 'how much' is equal to 'twenty times fifteen.' You write your algebraic expression as x = 20 * 15. This is an expression that you can solve to find an answer.

Of course, there are other key words to watch out for. For example, any of your number words can be key words. Think about what other words are used to describe the multiplication operation. What words come to your mind? I can think of 'product,' 'by,' and 'multiply.'

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