The properties of real numbers are very important in our study of Algebra. These properties can be applied in Algebra because a variable is simply a letter that represents a real number. The distributive property is one that we apply often when simplifying algebraic expressions. Given real numbers a, b, c:
a(b + c) = ab + acWhen multiplying an expression within parentheses you must multiply everything inside by the number or variable that you are distributing.
Instructional Video: Introduction to the Distributive Property
When simplifying, we will often have to combine like terms after we distribute. This step is consistent with the order of operations, multiplication before addition.
Instructional Video: Combining Like Terms
Instructional Video: Simplifying Algebraic Expressions
To combine like terms, the variable parts have to be exactly the same. But before combining like terms, generally, we will first distribute if necessary. When distributing negative numbers notice that the operations change.
Subtracting Variable Expressions: What is the difference between 3x − 4 and −2x + 5?
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