Translating a Subtraction Statement into an Algebraic Expression

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  • 0:00 A Subtraction Statement
  • 1:24 Translating the Statement
  • 3:14 Example 1
  • 3:45 Example 2
  • 4:21 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 take a statement that you hear or read in words and translate it into an algebraic expression that you can solve. Learn what key words to look for when writing your expressions.

A Subtraction Statement

Believe it or not, math is all around us. In our day-to-day lives, we might encounter math problems in word format that we need to solve. In this video lesson, we look at translating these math problems that we encounter into algebraic expressions that we can solve. Algebraic expressions are mathematical statements written using numbers and symbols. Today we're going to focus on just the translating part and not the solving part, however. How to solve these algebraic expressions is covered in other lessons. Also, this lesson just discusses just subtraction problems, but you can learn how to perform this operation with other types of problems in other video lessons.

Let's take a look at a possible scenario that you might encounter.

Mike and Bob are fishing buddies. They go fishing every weekend. This particular weekend, they are at the lake and having a really good time. They started the day with a whole bucket of worms, and now their fish bucket is starting to get filled. Bob's looking at their worm bucket, and he asks Mike, ''Hey, Mike, how many worms do we have left if we started with fifty worms and we've used thirty worms already?''

Translating the Statement

To solve this problem, Mike needs to translate this statement into an algebraic expression. How will Mike do this? Mike will need to find the key words, so he looks at what the statement is really telling him. The key words that Mike sees are how many, left, fifty, and thirty. The word left, which means remaining in this case, tells Mike that this problem is a subtraction problem. Now, in a subtraction problem, we will have a beginning number and a number that is being subtracted from the beginning number. The way our sentence is worded and what is being stated will tell us what is being subtracted from what. Mike sees that the beginning number is fifty and the number that is being subtracted is thirty. Now Mike can write his algebraic expression as x = 50 - 30. Mike uses an x for the unknown number represented by how many.

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