Login

What is a Fraction? - Definition and Types

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: How to Raise and Reduce Fractions

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 What Is a Fraction?
  • 1:25 Proper & Improper Fractions
  • 2:51 Like & Unlike Fractions
  • 4:31 Mixed Numbers
  • 5:21 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

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.

Fractions may be your friend's worst nightmare, but they don't have to be yours. Watch this video lesson to learn about fractions and how you can understand them easily. Also learn to identify the different types of fractions.

What Is a Fraction?

Fractions give some people nightmares, but this doesn't have to be you. Keep watching this video lesson, and you will come out with a better understanding of fractions. And hopefully, you won't feel so afraid of them.

We begin with a definition of what fractions are. A fraction simply tells us how many parts of a whole we have. You can recognize a fraction by the slash that is written between the two numbers. We have a top number, the numerator, and a bottom number, the denominator. For example, 1/2 is a fraction. You can write it with a slanted slash like we have or you can write the 1 on top of the 2 with the slash between the two numbers. The 1 is the numerator, and the 2 is the denominator.

What does this fraction mean? Well, if we picture a pie, the bottom number tells us how many slices to slice the pie, and the top number tells us how many of those slices we can have. So 1/2 tells us that we have sliced our pie into two slices, and we can take 1 of those slices. Isn't that half of the pie? So 1/2 of a pie is half a pie! Now that's a pretty big slice! Top it with whipped cream, and we are good to go!

Within the world of fractions, we do have several types and ways of writing them. Let's discuss these now.

Proper and Improper Fractions

First, we have what we call 'proper' and 'improper' fractions. Proper fractions are those fractions where the numerator is less than the denominator. An improper fraction is a fraction where the numerator is greater than the denominator. For example, the fraction 7/8 is a proper fraction, where 8/7 is an improper fraction.

Think of it as trying to take your slices from just one pie. With a proper fraction, you can take all your slices from just the one pie, but with an improper fraction, you need more than one pie to get the number of slices that you need. The fraction 7/8 tells you to take 7 slices out of a pie with 8 slices. You can take all your slices from just the one pie. But the fraction 8/7 says that you need 8 slices from a pie that only has 7 slices. If your pie only has 7 slices, you can only take 7 slices from one pie. To get your 8th slice, you need a second pie that is also sliced into 7 slices from which you can take one slice to make your 8th slice.

You could say that improper fractions are greedy fractions because you need more than one whole pie to satisfy it. Proper fractions can be satisfied by taking slices from just one pie.

Like and Unlike Fractions

Next, we have like and unlike fractions. Like fractions are those fractions that are the same. Unlike fractions are those fractions that are different. For example, the fractions 1/2 and 2/4 are like fractions because they are same. How can they be the same? Cut a pie into 2 slices and take 1 slice. Now cut another pie into 4 slices and take 2 slices. How much of the pie did you take in both cases? You took half of a pie in both cases, so they are the same number.

Mathematically, 2/4 simplifies into 1/2 because we can divide both the top and bottom numbers by 2. When we can divide both the numerator and denominator by the same number, we should do so to simplify the fraction. For example, the fraction 6/9 can be simplified to 2/3 since we can divide the 6 by 3 and the 9 by 3 as well. 6 divided by 3 is 2, and 9 divided by 3 is 3, so 6/9 simplifies to 2/3.

We also call like fractions 'equivalent fractions.' You might see both these terms used interchangeably. Unlike fractions, on the other hand, are those fractions that are completely different. For example, 2/4 and 6/9 are unlike fractions because even when you simplify them, you get different fractions: 2/4 simplifies to 1/2, while 6/9 simplifies to 2/3. Now, 1/2 and 2/3 are definitely different fractions!

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support