The distributive property is an algebraic rule that states that a multiplied by the sum of b and c is equal to a times b added to a times c. The actual formula is written as a(b + c) = ab + ac.
For an example, assume a equals three, b equals five, and c equals seven. In the formula, five plus seven equals 12. Multiply three times 12 to get 36. To compute the right side of the equation, multiply three times five to get 15. Then, multiply three times seven to get 21. Add 15 and 21 to get the same answer, which is 36.