Writing Algebraic Expressions by Recognizing the Words

algebra basicsAnne has four dogs. When she goes to the pound she adopts a few more. Anne now has 7 dogs to feed. How many dogs did Anne adopt? If you dread these types of expressions in your algebra exams, then help is on the way. Turning word problems into algebraic expressions doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are some tips and techniques you can use to ensure you can translate any word problem into the algebraic expression. The Algebra I (Beginning Algebra) course will teach you all the basic principles and skills you will need for basic algebra. The topics covered in this course includes lectures on how to work with variables, how to group symbols, how to solve equations, how to translate words into symbols and how to translate sentences into equations.

Words to Watch Out For

Writing algebraic expressions is about recognizing the terms used in the word problem. When you know what words to look for, you will know how to transform those word problems into equations with no trouble at all.

Here are some of the words to watch out for:

  • Words that indicate addition

  • Words that indicate subtraction

  • Words that indicate division

  • Words that indicate multiplication

Words That Indicate Addition

Word problems contain the clues you need to translate them into algebraic expressions. When a word problem contains the words “add”, “addition”, “sum”, “additional” or “increase” then you need to substitute addition for these words.

Here are a few examples of these words in a word problem and their corresponding equations:

What is the answer if we add four to three

4 + 3

Three plus two

3 + 2

Four increased by eight

4 + 8

Jack has four balls. If he gets two additional balls how many balls does Jack have?

4 + 2

What is the sum of three plus five

3 + 5

The Learn Algebra, from Beginner to Advanced equations offers a number of step-by-step tutorials to help you with mathematics. These tutorials focus on algebra and they are designed to teach both beginners and advanced pupils. The tutorials cover algebra basics including how to work with the slope of a line, factorization, Pythagorean Theorem, Linear Equations, and how to deal with exam anxiety.

The Algebra Basics: Refresh Your Math Skills offers additional resources to help you solve algebraic equations simply and easily.

Words That Indicate Subtraction

Word problems that include the words “less than”, “minus”, “decrease”, “takes away”, “remains” or “subtract” all indicate that you need to use subtraction in your equation. Unlike addition, the order of the numbers is important for subtraction so you need to read the word problem properly to decide which number should be subtracted.

Seven less five

7 – 5

Eight minus three

8 – 3

Nine decreased by eight

9 – 8

Five take away three

5 – 3

There are five balls. Joan removes two balls. How many balls remain?

5 – 2

Eight subtract five

8 – 5

The Beginning Algebra: Building a Foundation course covers the topics generally included in high school algebra 1 and college developmental math. The course includes tutorials on integers and real numbers. It provides explanations on how to solve equations, how to graph linear equations, how to work with polynomials, radicals and square roots. It includes factoring, exponents, and working with  word problems. The course includes a total of 105 video lectures that provide step-by-step instructions on the above topics. At the end of chapter the course includes assessments to ensure you have mastered the skills taught in the chapter and key answers are included for all questions.

Words That Indicate Division

Words that indicate division include the use of “per”, “ratio”, “out of” or “percent”. It is important when working with division to make sure you get the order of the division correct. Here are some word examples for division:

I drove 60 miles and my car uses 30 miles per gallon. How many Gallons did I use?

60 / 30

Represent ten minutes as a ratio of sixty minutes – or ten minutes as a ratio of one hour

10 / 60

Eight out of ten people passed the class

8 / 10

What percentage of the class passed?

8/10 *100 / 1

The Algebra 1 Made Easy course explains algebra concepts in an easy and fun way and covers functions, exponentials, radicals, linear functions, inequalities, equations and many others.

Words That Indicate Multiplication

Words that indicate multiplication includes “times”, “multiplied”, “product of” and “in all”. Here are some examples of word problems that include multiplication:

Five times eight

5 x 8

Eight multiplied by three

8 x 3

Calculate the product of nine and eight

9 x 8

There are five socks in a box. We have eight boxes. How many socks do we have in all?

8 x 5

Read the Algebra Symbols: What Are They, and What They Mean article for a full guide on algebraic symbols and their uses.

Writing Algebraic Expressions

The key to creating algebraic expressions from word problems, lies in identifying the mathematical words included in the word problem itself.

The Beginning Algebra: Building a Foundation course covers the topics generally included in high school algebra 1 and college developmental math. The course includes tutorials on integers and real numbers. It provides explanations on how to solve equations, how to graph linear equations, how to work with polynomials, radicals and square roots. It includes factoring, exponents, and working with word problems. The course includes a total of 105 video lectures that provide step-by-step instructions on the above topics. At the end of chapter the course includes assessments to ensure you have mastered the skills taught in the chapter and key answers are included for all questions.