4.6: Simplify Variable Expressions Involving Integer Addition
Let’s Think About It
Ashley has just started a new business making and selling granola bars. So far she has been selling the granola bars at soccer games on Saturdays. Ashley sold 10 bars in her first week of business and 25 bars in her second week of business. If
In this concept, you will learn how to simplify variable expressions involving integer addition.
Guidance
An expression is a number phrase that contains numbers and operations.
Here are some examples of expressions:

2x−4 
−15+7−1 
3x+5y−2 
5x+2x
A variable is a symbol or letter (often
Here are some examples of variable expressions:

2x−4 
3x+5y−2 
5x+2x
In a variable expression, like terms are two terms that include the same variable. If a variable expression has like terms, it can be simplified by combining the like terms into one single term.
Here is an example.
Simplify
In this variable expression,
To simplify the expression, focus on the coefficients, which are the numbers in front of the
Think of it as if you had 5
Here is another example.
This variable expression cannot be combined or simplified. It does not have like terms. The
You can use what you know about adding integers to help you to simplify variable expressions.
Let's look at one more example.
Find the sum of
Since
Notice that the two like terms have different signs. So, your first step is to find the absolute values of both integers. Then subtract the term whose integer has the lesser absolute value from the other term.
Your next step is to decide what the sign should be on your final answer. Your answer should take the sign of the original term that had the greater absolute value. Since 9 is greater than 3, and
The answer is
Guided Practice
Simplify
First, notice that both terms have the same variable,
Next, look at the signs of the terms.
Your next step is to decide what the sign should be on your final answer. Your answer should take the sign of the original term that had the greater absolute value. Since 7 is greater than 3, and
The answer is
Examples
Example 1
Simplify
First, notice that both terms have the same variable,
Next, look at the signs of the terms.
Your next step is to decide what the sign should be on your final answer. Your answer should take the sign of the original terms. Since the original terms were negative, your final answer should be negative.
The answer is
Example 2
Simplify
First, notice that both terms have the same variable,
Next, look at the signs of the terms.
\begin{align*}19 = 19\end{align*} and \begin{align*}5 = 5\end{align*}.
\begin{align*}195=14\end{align*}
Your next step is to decide what the sign should be on your final answer. Your answer should take the sign of the original term that had the greater absolute value. Since 19 is greater than 5, and \begin{align*}19y\end{align*} has a negative sign, give the answer a negative sign.
The answer is \begin{align*}19y+5y=14y\end{align*}.
Example 3
Simplify \begin{align*}6y+2y+(3y)\end{align*}.
First, notice that all three terms have the same variable, \begin{align*}y\end{align*}, so they are all like terms.
Now, you will do this problem in two steps. Start by adding \begin{align*}6y+2y\end{align*}.
Look at the signs of the terms. \begin{align*}6y\end{align*} is negative, but \begin{align*}2y\end{align*} is positive. Because they have different signs, you will need to subtract their absolute values.
\begin{align*}6 = 6\end{align*} and \begin{align*}2 = 2\end{align*}.
\begin{align*}62=4\end{align*}
Your next step is to decide what the sign should be on your result. Your result should take the sign of the original term that had the greater absolute value. Since 6 is greater than 2, and \begin{align*}6y\end{align*} has a negative sign, give the result a negative sign.
\begin{align*}6y+2y=4y\end{align*}
Next, take \begin{align*}4y\end{align*} and add to it the final term from the original expression, \begin{align*}3y\end{align*}.
Again, look at the signs of the terms. \begin{align*}4y\end{align*} is negative and \begin{align*}3y\end{align*} is also negative. Because they have the same sign, you will need to add their absolute values.
\begin{align*}4 = 4\end{align*} and \begin{align*}3 = 3\end{align*}.
\begin{align*}4+3=7\end{align*}
Your next step is to decide what the sign should be on your final answer. Your answer should take the sign of the original terms. Since the original terms (\begin{align*}4y\end{align*} and \begin{align*}3y\end{align*}) were negative, your final answer should be negative.
\begin{align*}4y+(3y)=7y\end{align*}
The answer is \begin{align*}6y+2y+(3y)=7y\end{align*}.
Follow Up
Remember Ashley and her granola bar business? Her first week in business she sold 10 bars and her second week in business she sold 25 bars. She wants to come up with a variable expression to represent her total profit so far.
If \begin{align*}b\end{align*} represents her profit from one bar, then in the first week her profit was \begin{align*}10b\end{align*} and in the second week her profit was \begin{align*}25b\end{align*}. To find her total profit, she wants to simplify
\begin{align*}10b+25b\end{align*}
To simplify this expression, start by looking at the signs of the terms. \begin{align*}10b\end{align*} is positive and \begin{align*}25b\end{align*} is also positive. Because they have the same sign, you will need to add their absolute values.
\begin{align*}10 = 10\end{align*} and \begin{align*}25 = 25\end{align*}.
\begin{align*}10+25=35\end{align*}
Your next step is to decide what the sign should be on your final answer. Your answer should take the sign of the original terms. Since the original terms were positive, your final answer should be positive.
The answer is \begin{align*}10b+25b=35b\end{align*}.
Ashley's profit so far is \begin{align*}35b\end{align*}, where \begin{align*}b\end{align*} represents the profit she makes from selling one granola bar.
Explore More
Simplify each variable expression.
1. \begin{align*}7z + (−3z)\end{align*}
2. \begin{align*}17z + (−15z)\end{align*}
3. \begin{align*}5x + (−3x)\end{align*}
4. \begin{align*}8y + (2y)\end{align*}
5. \begin{align*}12x + (13x)\end{align*}
6. \begin{align*}9z + (−9z)\end{align*}
7. \begin{align*}14a + (3a)\end{align*}
8. \begin{align*}22y + (33y)\end{align*}
9. \begin{align*}(10d) + (d) + 2\end{align*}
10. \begin{align*}8x + (4x)  5\end{align*}
11. \begin{align*}7y + (3y)\end{align*}
12. \begin{align*}16x + (22x)\end{align*}
13. \begin{align*}5a + (a) + 7a\end{align*}
Solve each realworld problem.
14. A plane is flying at an altitude that is 2, 500 feet above sea level. If the plane increases its altitude by 500 feet more, what will be its new altitude?
15. The temperature on a mountaintop at midnight was \begin{align*}−8^\circ F\end{align*}. By 3:00 A.M., the temperature had risen by \begin{align*}3^\circ F\end{align*}. What is the temperature at 3:00 A.M.?
Image Attributions
 [1]^ Credit: jeffreyw; Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreyww/12328842433/; License: CC BYNC 3.0
 [2]^ Credit: Tax Credits; Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/6921689726/; License: CC BYNC 3.0
Description
Learning Objectives
In this concept, you will learn how to simplify variable expressions involving integer addition.
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Date Created:
Aug 10, 2015Last Modified:
Sep 23, 2015Vocabulary
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