Q:

What is the difference between a prism and a pyramid?

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Quick Answer

A prism has a polygonal base and a face opposite and congruent to the base, while a pyramid has a polygonal base and an apex at the opposite side. The edge of the pyramid's base and its apex form a triangle, and the number of sides of its base dictate how many triangular faces are present in the pyramid.

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What is the difference between a prism and a pyramid?
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Full Answer

The confusion between a prism and a pyramid lies in the fact that both are polyhedrons, which are three-dimensional solids characterized by flat faces, sharp corners and edges that are linear. The difference is the existence of a face opposite to the polygonal base. If the base of the polyhedron is opposite to a face with the same shape and size as the base, the object is a prism. However, if the solid's base is opposite to a point called the apex, then the figure is a pyramid.

Another reason for the confusion is the shape of most tangible prisms. The most common type of prism is the triangular prism, which is composed of a triangular base, a congruent face atop it and three rectangular faces. If the viewer looks through the prism with the base in front, the shape looks like a three-dimensional triangular structure, which is often attributed to a pyramid.

The nomenclature for both solids is based on the shape of the base. If the base is in the shape of a triangle, then the solids formed are a triangular prism and a triangular pyramid. If the base is a regular five-sided polygon, the figures are called pentagonal prism and pentagonal pyramid.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is a rectangular pyramid?

    A:

    A rectangular pyramid is a pyramid that has a rectangle as the base and the rest of the faces are composed of triangles. A pyramid is named based on the shape of the base of the pyramid.

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  • Q:

    What are some pyramid shapes around the house?

    A:

    Pyramids are three-dimensional tetrahedrons with a base, which can be rectangular or triangular, and corresponding sides comprised of triangles that meet at a single apex. Thus, because there are multiple kinds of pyramids, there are multiple pyramid-shaped or pyramid-like objects in and around the household.

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  • Q:

    How many sides does a pyramid have?

    A:

    The number of sides a pyramid has depends on the shape of its polygonal base; for example, if the base of a pyramid is a square, it will have five sides, which are four triangular sides and one square side. A pyramid whose base is n sides has n+1 faces, n+1 vertex and 2n edges.

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  • Q:

    What is a triangular pyramid?

    A:

    A triangular pyramid is a pyramid that has a triangular base. In total it consists of four faces, all of which are triangles. While all the side triangles must be of the same size, the base may or may be the same size as the sides.

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