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How to deal with Negative and positive signs in math.

Most students get it hard to solve signs problems, especially when there are negative and positive signs in the expressions.

For example;

Solve -2-3

To overcome this kind of mathematics, all you have to do is first tackle the signs in it. First, if you bear the following set of rules in your mind, you will be able to go through it.

i) - - = +, that is negative negative gives positive

ii) - + = -, again negative positive gives negative

iii) ++ = +, positive positive gives positive

Now applying this rule in our example above, becomes -2-3 = -6, here, in order to determine the operation to go first, we followed the rules above, since negative negative gives positive, that means, we have to add. That is 2 + 3 = 6. But for us to determine the sign to go with the answer, we looked for the bigger number. Here the bigger number is 3 and it has negative attached it, so the answer should have a negative answer.

Similarly, if we are to solve -2+3.

Here also, for the operation, negative positive is negative, so we are going to subtract. So 3- 2 = 1. Now to determine the sign to go with answer, we also look for the bigger number which 3 and it has positive sign attached to it. So the answer should have a positive sign.

That is +1 should be the answer.

In, conclusion, the sign of the bigger number and set of rules as written above determine the answer involving subtraction and addition. Watch out for the ones involving multiplication and division.

You can try this at home.


i) -1+25
ii) -1-25



Chiemeka E.


1000+ hours
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