What are some tips to follow when subtracting mixed numbers?


Quick Answer

When one subtracts mixed numbers, subtract the whole numbers, then subtract the fractions. One needs to borrow from the whole number if the first fraction is less than the second. The fraction is best shown in reduced terms.

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Full Answer

When denominators in fractions are equal, subtract the whole numbers followed by the numerators. In the problem 8 4/5-1 1/5, solve 8-1 followed by 4-1; the answer is 7 3/5. If the problem is 8 1/5-1 4/5, one must borrow from the 8 to form the problem 7 6/5-1 4/5. Solve 7-1 then 6-4; the answer is 6 2/5.

When denominators are not equal, one must make them equal before solving. In the problem 6 7/8-2 3/4, the denominators must be 8 before answering. Multiplying the 4 by 2 makes the denominator 8. The numerator also is multiplied by 2, so the problem becomes 6 7/8-2 6/8. Subtract the whole numbers, then the numerators, to get 4 1/8.

In the problem 5 7/8-1 3/8, the initial answer is 4 4/8. The fraction is reducible as 8 is a multiple of 4, so the fraction can be reduced to its lowest term. Divide both parts of the fraction by 4; the fraction becomes 1/2. The answer is written as 4 1/2.

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