What Does a Negative Number in Parentheses Next to an Exponent Not in Parenthesis Mean?


A negative number in parentheses followed by an exponent indicates that the negative number is to be raised to the power indicated by the exponent. For example, (-3)^2 is the same as (-3) x (-3), which equals 9.

Parentheses are used in mathematics for grouping terms in specific ways. For example, if the negative sign is not included inside the parentheses, -(3^2), the answer is -9. If parentheses are absent, a problem written in the form -x^2 should be read as -(x^2). Raising a negative number to an even-numbered exponent always yields a positive answer, but raising a negative number to an odd-numbered exponent yields a negative answer. For example, (-4)^3 is the same as (-4) x (-4) x (-4), which equals -64.