Understanding Decimal Place Value

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Decimals are useful in math when trying to express measurements that are expressed in tenths, hundredths or thousandths. Analyze decimal places, up to a certain point, with help from a math teacher in this free video on using decimals in math.

Part of the Video Series: Fractions & Proportions
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Video Transcript

So how does one understand decimal place values? Hi, I'm Jimmy Chang. I've been teaching college mathematics for nine years now, and, with decimal place values it's a very important thing to study, not just in mathematics but also in science because you find yourself measuring a lot of things, and measuring things as accurately as possible. So, sometimes it boils down to measuring it to the nearest tenth, hundredth or thousandth, depending on what the situation happens to be. So, here's a decimal, and we're going to analyze the different decimal places up to a certain point. Suppose you have 3.761. Now, we know three is the whole number. Three is the one's place here. But what we're going to be focusing on is what's afterwards. Now, the seven is known as the tenths place. When you have a tenth of something, for each tenth that you have, you're representing ten percent of something. Not a big number, but not that small of a number, either. The six represent the hundredths place. Now you notice we go from tenths to hundredths. That's like a power of ten, but smaller, because hundredths are smaller than tenths. And whenever you have a number that's two places away from the decimal, that represents one percent, even smaller than ten percent. But even smaller than that is one, which is three places away from the decimal. This one represents the thousandths place. So notice the pattern. Tenths, hundredths, thousandths. For every decimal place you go out, the smaller the number becomes, because tenths represent ten percent. Hundredths represent single percents, and thousandths are, in this case, is .1 of a percent, very small. After the one, you have, after the thousandths you have ten thousandths, hundred thousandths. You get smaller and smaller the further away you are from the decimal. So, I'm Jimmy Chang, and that's a glimpse as to how decimal place values work.


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