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how do I solve 7x + 2y =5

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Hi, Christine.

Typically in literal equations, the student is asked to solve for one of the variables in the problem.  For example, in your equation 7x  + 2y  =  5, you might have been asked to solve for y.  This means you need to isolate the y by the same method you would if you had all numbers.

7x  +  2y   =  5,   Solve for y.

First, get the y-term by itself by subtracting 7x from both sides:

 7x   + 2y   =   5
-7x                 -7x                                                              .
         2y    =   - 7x  + 5

Now divide all the terms on both sides by 2:

2y =  - 7x  +  5
 2        2       2

y = - 7/2  x  +   5/2

Hope this helps.