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






Algebra Page

6th Grade Page

Subtraction of Literals to HOME PAGE




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Literal Numbers - Worksheets

Worksheet on Addition of Literals

Worksheet on Subtraction of Literals

Worksheet on Multiplication of Literals

Worksheet on Division of Literals

Worksheet on Powers of Literal Numbers