How Do You Find the Tangent?


Quick Answer

Find the tangent by dividing the length of the opposite side of a right triangle by the length of its adjacent side. The result of this equation is the tangent, a single point on a circle through which the tangent line runs.

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Full Answer

  1. Identify the sides

    In a right triangle, there are three sides and a right angle. A right angle measures 90 degrees, and a triangle has 180 degrees total. The slanted side is called the hypotenuse. The side opposite the referenced angle in an equation is the opposite side. The third side is called the adjacent side, adjacent to the referenced angle in an equation.

  2. Find the lengths

    If the right triangle is not labeled with the length of all three sides, use the Pythagorean theorem, a^2 + b^2 = c^2, to find the missing side lengths. The hypotenuse is c, found across from the right angle. The sides are b and c, in no particular order.

  3. Solve the tangent equation

    Divide the length of the opposite side by the length of the adjacent side. The resulting answer is the tangent. The answer can be expressed as a fraction or a decimal. It represents a single point on a circle, through which a tangent line runs.

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