X-Coordinates: Definition & Examples

X-Coordinates: Definition & Examples
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  • 0:00 What Is an X-Coordinate?
  • 0:28 Example
  • 0:50 Directions and Coordinates
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kimberlee Davison

Kim has a Ph.D. in Education and has taught math courses at four colleges, in addition to teaching math to K-12 students in a variety of settings.

X-coordinates are an essential part of plotting points on graphs. Learn how an x-coordinate relates to direction on 2-dimensional mathematical grids. After, test yourself with the quiz.

What Is an X-Coordinate?

An x-coordinate is the x value in an ordered pair, which is just two mathematical objects, such as numbers, paired together. Usually, the x-coordinate is the first number in that pair. For instance, in the ordered pair (2,5), the x-coordinate would be '2.' This value tells you how far a point is from the origin, or starting point, in the x direction on a 2-dimensional graph.

Example

Let's look at an example. On this graph, the x-coordinates are shown in red. They're nearly always the first value in an ordered pair and the horizontal direction on a Cartesian plane, or a 2-dimensional mathematical graph.

Graph with several labeled points

The x-coordinate of the heart is '4', the x-coordinate of the star is '3', and the x-coordinate of the smiley face is '-4'.

Directions and Coordinates

The x-direction, however, needs to be labeled clearly, so everyone who looks at a graph knows exactly what you mean.

Let's suppose you are giving your second cousin directions to your house for a birthday bash you are holding for your great-grandmother. You might say, 'Drive 3 miles north on Main Street, turn left, and go three more blocks.' Then, your great-grandmother's sister calls for directions and you say, 'Drive 10 miles south on Main Street, turn right, and go three more blocks.' Why did you give different directions? Well, because these two relatives were coming from different starting points. My point is this: directions are relative.

In mathematics, you will usually see the x-direction as the horizontal direction on a graph. Your math teacher and math book will almost always draw the x direction and y direction, as you see here. The labels x-axis and y-axis are there to make absolutely sure you know which direction is x and which is y.

Blank Cartesian Plane

There is no reason, however, why a graph couldn't look like this, with the x and y directions reversed:

Graph with x and y axes reversed

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