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Subtraction

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

Imagine if counting is like crawling and addition is like walking, then subtraction would be like walking backwards.


Subtraction is indeed one of the more challenging operations because it's different from addition. Students have to "unlearn" some of what they learned about addition, which can be disheartening at times. The properties that they used with addition don't always apply the same way to subtraction.


Here are some important properties associated with subtraction:


1. Subtraction as the Inverse of Addition: Subtraction is closely connected to addition. The inverse property tells us that when we subtract one number from another, it's like adding the additive inverse of that number. In other words, a - b is the same as a + (-b).


2. Subtraction with Zero: When we subtract zero from any number, it stays the same. For example, 5 - 0 is still 5.


3. Subtraction with Zero as the Result: When we subtract a number from itself, the result is always zero. For example, 8 - 8 equals 0.


4. Subtraction is not Commutative: Unlike addition, the order of numbers in subtraction matters. For example, 3 - 2 is not the same as 2 - 3.


5. Associative Property does not apply: Unlike addition, changing the grouping of numbers in a subtraction expression might give different results. For example, (4 - 2) - 1 is not necessarily equal to 4 - (2 - 1).


It's important to understand that subtraction relies on the properties of addition because it's like the opposite, or inverse, operation. So, many properties that apply to addition indirectly affect subtraction as well. With practice and understanding, students can master subtraction, just like they did with addition, and build a strong foundation in math.



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