Subtraction of Literals

Subtraction of Literals and their combination with the numbers follow the rules of subtraction of numbers.

If we are asked to subtract 5 from 7, then we write 7 – 5.

Exactly in the same way, when we are asked to subtract a number say 3 from a literal h, we write h – 3 and is read as ‘h minus 3’.

Note that h – 3 can also be read as ‘3 less than a literal number h’.

Similarly, if b is subtracted from a, we write a – b. We can also read a – b as ‘b less than a’.

If a subtracted from b, then we write b – a.

(a – b) – c means that b is subtracted from a and then c is to be subtracted from the result.

We can also say that c is subtracted from the difference of b from a.

It should be noted here that commutativity and associativity of subtraction are not true for literals as they are not true for numbers.


Examples of Subtraction of Literals:

Write each of the following phrases using number, literals and the basic operation of subtraction:

(i) 5 less than literal x

Answer: x – 5


(ii) 100 less than literal p

Answer: p – 100


(iii) Decrease x by 7

Answer: x – 7


(iv) Decrease m by n

Answer: m – n


(v) Subtract 4 from x

Answer: x – 4


(v) Subtract z from 50

Answer: 50 – z


(vi) x less than a sum of y and 7

Answer: (y + 7) – x


(vii) 10 less than a sum of x and y

Answer: (x + y) – 10


(viii) Decrease the sum of x and y by z

Answer: (x + y) – z


(ix) Decrease the sum of m and 10 by p

Answer: (m + 10) – p


(x) 5 is diminished by z

Answer: 5 - z


(xi) a less than 4

Answer: 4 - a


(xii) 4 less than x

Answer: x - 4


(xiii) Number m less than a number 10

Answer: 10 - m


(xiv) Number 7 less than a number s

Answer: s - 7


(xv) 25 taken away from y

Answer: y - 25


(xvi) x taken away from y

Answer: y - x

Literal Numbers

Addition of Literals

Subtraction of Literals

Multiplication of Literals

Properties of Multiplication of Literals

Division of Literals

Powers of Literal Numbers






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