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Triangle Classification

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Triangles

How is an exterior angle of a triangle related to the interior angles of the triangle? For example, how is exterior angle  \angle BCE related to interior angles  \angle A and \angle B ?

Watch This

Watch the second part of this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_O2Knid2XA James Sousa: Types of Triangles

Guidance

Triangles can be classified by their sides and by their angles.

When classifying a triangle by its sides, you should look to see if any of the sides are the same length. If no sides are the same length, then it is a scalene triangle . If two sides are the same length, then it is an isosceles triangle . If all three sides are the same length, then it is an equilateral triangle . You can show that two sides are the same length by drawing tick marks through the middles of the sides. Sides with a corresponding number of tick marks are the same length.

When classifying a triangle by its angles, you should look at the size of the angles. If there is a right angle (a  90^\circ angle), then it is a right triangle . If the measures of all angles are less than 90^\circ , then it is an acute triangle . If the measure of one angle is greater than 90^\circ , then it is an obtuse triangle .

The sum of the measures of the interior angles of any triangle is 180^\circ . If the three angles of a triangle are all the same, then the triangle is an  equiangular triangle and each angle measure is 60^\circ . Equilateral triangles are always equiangular and vice versa. In fact, the number of sides that are the same length will always correspond to the number of angles that are the same measure.

Example A

Classify the triangle below by its sides and angles.

Solution: This triangle has two sides that are congruent (the same length), so it is isosceles. It also has one angle that is greater than 90^\circ , so it is obtuse.

Example B

The measures of two angles of a triangle are  30^\circ and 60^\circ . What type of triangle is it?

Solution: You know that the measures of the three angles must add up to 180^\circ . This means that the measure of the third angle is  180^\circ-60^\circ-30^\circ=90^\circ , so it is a right triangle. Because all of the angles are different measures, all of the sides must be different lengths, so it is a scalene triangle.

Example C

Is it possible for an obtuse triangle to be equilateral?

Solution: No. Equilateral triangles are always equiangular and acute. Because the sum of the measures of the angles of a triangle is always  180^\circ , the measures of the three angles in an equiangular/equilateral triangle are each 60^\circ . In order to be obtuse, one of the angles would have to be greater than 90^\circ .

Concept Problem Revisited

You know that  m \angle A+m \angle B+m \angle BCA=180^\circ . You also know that m \angle ECB+m \angle BCA=180^\circ because those two angles form a straight angle and are therefore supplementary.

 

& m \angle A+m \angle B+m \angle BCA=180^\circ \\& m \angle ECB \quad \quad + m  \angle BCA=180^\circ

You can see that m \angle A+m \angle B=m \angle ECB . In general, the measure of an exterior angle of a triangle will always be equal to the sum of the measures of the remote interior angles.

Vocabulary

scalene triangle has no sides that are congruent.

An  isosceles triangle has two sides that are congruent.

An  equilateral triangle has three sides that are congruent.

right triangle has one right angle.

An  obtuse triangle has one angle with a measure that is greater than 90^\circ .

An  acute triangle has all three angles with measures less than 90^\circ .

An  equiangular triangle has three congruent angles.

Guided Practice

1. The measures of two angles of a triangle are  45^\circ and 45^\circ . What type of triangle is it?

2. Solve for  x (the picture is not drawn to scale):

3. Find the measure of each angle from  \Delta IJH in #2.

4. Which side of \Delta IJH is longest? Which side is shortest?

Answers :

1. The third angle must be  90^\circ , so it is a right triangle. Because two angles are the same measure, two sides must be the same length. Therefore, it is isosceles.

2. Set up an equation and solve:

x+3x-4+2x+5 &=180 \\6x+1 &=180 \\x &=\frac{179}{6} \approx 29.8

3. m \angle J\approx 29.8^\circ ; m \angle I\approx 3(29.8)-4=85.4^\circ ; m \angle H\approx 2(29.8)+5=64.6^\circ .

4. The largest angle is \angle I , so the longest side must be the side created by \angle I , which is the side across from \angle I . The longest side is \overline{JH} . The shortest side is across from the smallest angle. The smallest angle is \angle J , so the shortest side is \overline{IH} .

Practice

1. What are the three ways to classify a triangle by its sides?

2. What are the four ways to classify a triangle by its angles?

3. Can a right triangle be equiangular? Explain.

4. The measures of two angles of a triangle are  42^\circ and 42^\circ . What type of triangle is it?

5. The measures of two angles of a triangle are  120^\circ and 12^\circ . What type of triangle is it?

6. Solve for  x (the picture is not drawn to scale).

7. Find the measure of each angle for  \Delta ABC in #6.

8. Solve for  x (the picture is not drawn to scale).

9. Find the measure of each angle for the triangle in #8.

10. Which side  \Delta DEF of from #8 is the longest? Which side of  \Delta DEF is the shortest? How do you know?

11. Use the angle measurements to order the sides of the triangle below from shortest to longest.

12. Use the side measurements to order the measures of the angles in the triangle below from smallest to largest.

13. One of the exterior angles of a triangle is 100^\circ . What do you know about the interior angles?

14. Solve for  x (the picture is not drawn to scale).

15. Find  m \angle DEC (the picture is not drawn to scale).

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