What Is a Word Equation?

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In solving a word equation, it's important to remember that setting up the equation is usually the most difficult aspect. Solve word equations, or word problems, by avoiding tackling the problem as a whole with help from a math teacher in this free video on basic math lessons.

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Video Transcript

What is a word equation? Hi, I'm Jimmy Chang. I've been teaching college math for nine years, and when it comes to a word equation, we're basically talking about using words to help you set up an equation. Now, if that sounds like...awfully lot like a word problem, it actually is. You actually use words, though, to logically set up an equation. And when it comes to doing word problems, setting it up is always going to be the hardest part because doing it -- once you have the equation -- is pretty darn straightforward. So here's an example as to how you would make a word equation, and I'll let you solve the rest. So here we go. For example, you have three less than twice a number is 13. What is the number? So first off, let's address the word problem in pieces. If you can tackle the word problem piece by piece, it's a lot less overwhelming than if you were to tackle the word problem as a whole. Oftentimes, when people read word problems as a whole, they tend to get...give up too quickly. But if you look at it phrase by phrase, it's going to work out much better for you. So take a look at three less than. Now, it might be tempting to write the less than symbol here, but three less than actually means there's going to be subtraction going on. That will always going to be the case. So three less than means minus three. Now, let's talk about the second phrase: twice a number. Now, twice a number -- when you do something twice, you do something two times. Again, two times. That sounds pretty easy all of a sudden, doesn't it? Two times a number. You just write it as multiplication. So it'd be two times...let N be the number. 2N. So now, one side is going to be 2N minus three. Is -- is is always going to be the equal sign, always. And, of course, you now know what number is on the other side, which is 13. So what is the number? Well, it's your job now to basically solve for it. So if you want to solve it together, basically, you want to get N by itself. Solving it, you have to get rid of the three. Add three to both sides, so you now have 2N equal to the threes...negative three and positive three cancel. 13 plus three is 16. And then to solve for N, divide both sides by two, and you'll have N equal to eight. So I'm Jimmy Chang, and that's an example as to how to solve a word equation.


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