What if you were at the supermarket and saw the price of a loaf of bread, but you weren't sure how many loaves you wanted to buy? How could you represent the total amount of money spent on bread? After completing this Concept, you'll be able to write an expression that is equal to this amount, regardless of the number of loaves you buy.
When someone is having trouble with algebra, they may say, “I don’t speak math!” While this may seem weird to you, it is a true statement. Math, like English, French, Spanish, or Arabic, is a second language that you must learn in order to be successful. There are verbs and nouns in math, just like in any other language. In order to understand math, you must practice the language.
A verb is a “doing” word, such as running, jumping, or driving. In mathematics, verbs are also “doing” words. A math verb is called an
Operations can be something you have used before, such as addition, multiplication, subtraction, or division. They can also be much more complex like an exponent or square root.
Suppose you have a job earning $8.15 per hour. What could you use to quickly find out how much money you would earn for different hours of work?
You could make a list of all the possible hours, but that would take forever! So instead, you let the “hours you work” be replaced with a symbol, like
for hours, and write an equation such as:
A noun is usually described as a person, place, or thing. In mathematics, nouns are called numbers and
A variable is a symbol, usually an English letter, written to replace an unknown or changing quantity.
What variables could be choices for the following situations?
a. the number of cars on a road
b. time in minutes of a ball bounce
c. distance from an object
There are many options, but here are a few to think about.
a. Cars is the changing value, so
is a good choice.
b. Time is the changing value, so
is a good choice.
c. Distance is the varying quantity, so
is a good choice.
Write an expression for 2 more than 5 times a number.
First we need to choose a variable for this unknown number. The letter
is a common choice, so we'll use that. To write the expression, first express 5 times the number by
Now we need to express "2 more" than
. Two more means that we should add two.
1. What variable would you use to represent the length in yards of fabric?
2. Suppose bananas cost $0.29 each. Write an expression for the cost of buying a certain quantity of bananas.
3. Suppose your bank account charges you a $9 fee every month plus $2 for every time you use an ATM of another bank. Write an expression for the charges every month.
1. We often use the first letter of the word that the variable represents. Since we want to represent length, we could use
. We could also use
for yards, to be more specific. Either choice would be good in this case.
2. First we must choose a variable for the quantity of bananas purchased. What variable would you choose? One good choice is
, for banana. Now, it costs $0.29 for each banana, so we multiply that by the number of bananas purchased:
3. The bank charges $2 for every ATM withdrawal from another bank. That means $2 times the number of times you use the ATM of another bank is the amount of money charged. What variable should you use to represent the number of ATM withdrawals from another bank? One good choice would be
, for ATM. So the charges for the ATM are represented as follows:
But the bank also charges us a fixed $9 every month, so we have to
that to the expression:
In 1–5, choose an appropriate variable to describe each situation.
The number of hours you work in a week
The distance you travel
The height of an object over time
The area of a square
The number of steps you take in a minute
In 6–10, write an expression to describe each situation.
You have a job earning $2000 a month
Avocados are sold for $1.50 each
A car travels 50 miles per hour for a certain number of hours
Your vacation costs you $500 for the airplane ticket plus $100 per day
Your cell phone costs $50 a month plus $0.25 for each text message
In 11–15, underline the math verb(s) in the sentence.
divided by three minus eight
225 raised to the