What Are Opposite Numbers? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 The Same, But Different
  • 1:22 It Is All in the Signs
  • 1:58 Other Types of…
  • 2:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rayna Cummings

Rayna has taught Elementary Education for 12 years (in both 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades) and holds a M.Ed in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University

Did you know that numbers, just like words, have opposites? In this lesson, we are going to look at numbers using a number line and learn how to show opposite numbers using special signs. So let's get learning and find those special opposite numbers!

The Same, But Different

Quick! What is the opposite of hot? Cold! How about the opposite of slow? Fast! OK. So, as you know, opposite words have different meanings. Well, opposite numbers have different values, but they look very similar. Let's learn more about how to identify opposite numbers.

First, let's review our information about a number line. A number line is a horizontal line with numbers that are placed equal distance apart and that are sequentially numbered, meaning the numbers increase or decrease by the same amount. For example, your number line could count by 1s, by 5s, or even by 100s.

Opposite numbers are numbers that, when placed on a number line, are the exact same distance away from the 0, but on opposite sides, or in opposite directions. They look the same except for their signs. To the left of the 0 on the number line are negative numbers, with a - sign, and to the right of the zero on the number line are positive numbers which although they have a positive, + , sign, this sign is normally not written.

Opposite numbers number line
Opposite numbers number line

Examples of opposite numbers on our 'Opposite numbers number line' would be -1 and +1, -2 and +2, and so on. Again, opposite number look exactly the same except for their sign, which is based on whether the number is to the left or the right of the 0 on the number line.

It Is All in the Signs

Good news! You don't have to draw a number line every time you want to find out what the opposite of one number is. Now that you know that opposite numbers are the same number, one with a positive sign (+) and one with a negative sign (-), you can easily find the opposite of any number.

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