Opposite numbers

Every number has actually an opposite. In fact, every number has two opposites: the additive inverse and also the reciprocal—or multiplicative inverse. Don't be intimidated by this technical-sounding names, though. Detect a number's opposites is actually pretty straightforward.

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The additive inverse

The very first type of the contrary is the one you can be most acquainted with: positive numbers and negative numbers. For example, opposing of 4 is -4, or negative four. Top top a number line, 4 and -4 are both the same distance native 0, but they're on the opposite sides.


This kind of the contrary is also called the additive inverse. Inverse is just another word for opposite, and also additive describes the reality that when you add this opposite numbers together, they constantly equal 0.

-4 + 4 = 0

In this case, -4 + 4 equates to 0. So does -20 + 20 and also -x + x. In fact, any kind of number you have the right to come increase with has an additive inverse. No issue how huge or tiny a number is, including it and its inverse will certainly equal 0 every time.

If you've never functioned with positive and negative numbers, you could want to evaluation our class on negative numbers.

To discover the additive inverse:For optimistic numbers or variables, choose 5 or x: add a negative sign (-) to the left that the number: 5 → -5.
For negative numbers or variables, choose -5 or -x: Remove the an adverse sign: -10 → 10.
Using the additive inverse

The key time you'll usage the additive train station in algebra is when you cancel out number in an expression. (If you're not acquainted with cancelling out, check out our lesson on simplifying expressions.) when you cancel out a number, you're eliminating that from one next of one equation by performing an inverse action on that number top top both political parties of the equation. In this expression, we're cancelling out -8 by including its opposite: 8.

x- 8=12
+ 8+ 8

Using the additive inverse functions for cancelling out due to the fact that a number added to its train station always equals 0.

Reciprocals and the multiplicative inverse

The second type of the contrary number needs to do v multiplication and division. It's referred to as the multiplicative inverse, but it's an ext commonly referred to as a reciprocal.

To know the reciprocal, friend must first understand that every entirety number deserve to be composed as a fraction equal to the number separated by 1. Because that example, 6 can also be composed as 6/1.


Variables can be created this means too. Because that instance, x = x/1.


The reciprocal the a number is this portion flipped upside down. In various other words, the reciprocal has the initial fraction's bottom number—or denominator—on top and the height number—or numerator—on the bottom. Therefore the mutual of 6 is 1/6 because 6 = 6/1 and 1/6 is the inverse that 6/1.


Below, you can see an ext reciprocals. An alert that the mutual of a number that's currently a fraction is just a flipped fraction.


And because reciprocal way opposite, the reciprocal of a reciprocal portion is a whole number.


From looking at this tables, you could have currently noticed a simpler means to determine the mutual of a entirety number: just write a portion with 1 top top top and also the original number top top the bottom.

Decimal numbers have reciprocals too! To find the mutual of a decimal number, change it to a fraction, then flip the fraction. No sure how to convert a decimal number to a fraction? examine out our lesson on converting percentages, decimals, and fractions.

Using reciprocals

If you've ever multiplied and divided fractions, the reciprocal can seem familiar to you. (If not, girlfriend can always check the end our great on multiplying and dividing fractions.) as soon as you multiply 2 fractions, girlfriend multiply straight across. The numerators obtain multiplied, and the denominators acquire multiplied.

42 =8

However, as soon as you divide by a fraction you flip the portion over for this reason the numerator is ~ above the bottom and the denominator is top top top. In other words, you usage the reciprocal. You usage the opposite number since multiplication and division are additionally opposites.

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Use the skills you simply learned to fix these problems. After you've solved both sets of problems, you have the right to scroll under to watch the answers.