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forming an equation

when a ship was sinking, some sailors threw a valuable treasure chest overboard. The deck of the ship was 46 ft above the water's surface. The chest sank to a depth o f387 feet (-387). write an solve a subtraction equation to find the difference between the two locations.
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4 Answers

The difference between the two locations will be the original location (the deck of the ship) minus the final location (the bottom of the ocean).  So . . .
 
difference = ship - bottom = 46 ft - (-387 ft)
 
If you need to write this with all symbols, choose a letter for each value, say "s" for ship deck, "b" for ocean bottom and "d" for the difference.  Then,
 
d = s - b = 46 ft - (-387 ft) = 46 ft + (+387 ft) = 46 ft + 387 ft = 433 ft
 
The tricky part is remembering that when you subtract a negative number, there are two minus/negative signs next to each other.  You can turn both of them into + signs.
The deck of the ship was 46 ft above the water's surface. The chest sank to a depth o f387 feet (-387)
 

The treasure chest starts 46 feet above water (I wish I could draw this).  So, before it drops 387 feet, it first has to drop 46 feet.  Therefore:

 

    46 - (-387)

 

demonstrates the difference betwwen the 2 points.

46ft + 387ft or it can be written 46ft -  -387ft (the minus sign and the negative sign will form a positive or plus) and the answer would be 433 because there is 433 feet between the two points.