Translating Math Sentences to Inequalities

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  • 0:03 Math Sentences
  • 1:03 Inequality Words
  • 1:44 Translating Greater Than
  • 3:40 Translating Less Than
  • 4:54 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 learn how you can easily translate math sentences into inequalities. Once you know how to do this, solving word problems becomes that much easier.

Math Sentences

Math sentences are also considered word problems because they are a mixture of numbers and words to put together. Your job is to understand the words and then turn them into a math problem that you can easily solve. This is the goal of this video lesson. We want to be able to take a math sentence, a sentence made up of numbers and words, and turn it into math symbols we can easily understand and solve algebraically. This particular lesson will focus on inequalities.

Usually in algebra, our goal is to find some unknown number. We will see how this plays out in our math sentences. I know you are getting worried about word problems, but you don't have to be afraid of them. Just keep watching, and you will see that they are not so bad. The key is in knowing how to translate some key words or phrases into math symbols as well as understanding the math behind the words. So let's get started!

Inequality Words

We are talking about inequalities, so first I want to tell you the key phrases to look for that signal inequalities. We only have four phrases to look for: one phrase for each inequality symbol. We have the greater than symbol, the less than symbol, the greater than or equal to symbol and the less than or equal to symbol.

And yes, you are right. The key phrases we are looking for are simply the names of our symbols. If we are talking about the greater than symbol, then we will see the phrase 'greater than,' and if we are talking about the less than symbol, we will see the phrase 'less than.' Now let's see how these words work inside some real math sentences.

Translating Greater Than

We have a math sentence that says the number of donuts that Chris has eaten is greater than 10. Our job here is to translate this into math symbols. What do we do? We first identify the important parts. Our important parts are the number of donuts eaten by Chris, the number 10 and the phrase 'greater than.'

We can label the number of donuts eaten by Chris with an x because that is our unknown number. We can label our phrase 'greater than' with our greater than symbol, >. Our 10 we will leave as 10. Now we can write our math sentence using math symbols: x > 10.

We can do a mental check to see if what we've written is the same as our math sentence. What we wrote down tells us that Chris is eating more than 10 donuts. Is this what our original sentence is also telling us? It is. So, we are right.

Let's see another sentence. The number of baby bunnies plus 5 is greater than or equal to 12. Our job here is to translate our math sentence into math symbols, and if we need to solve, to solve the problem the best we can. We begin by identifying our important parts and labeling them accordingly.

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