 # Episode 54: Math Words

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 54: Math Words

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Transcript:

In this episode I present some American English math words. I recommend visiting SlowAmericanEnglish.net and reading the transcript for this episode to see the signs and symbols used in math as I speak the words.

Math‘ is short for ‘mathematics‘; both of these words are singular. There are several types of math, such as algebra and geometry. In this podcast, I will present vocabulary for the branch of math called arithmetic. Arithmetic includes basic number operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Numbers in arithmetic use the decimal system, which is based on ten.

Arithmetic operations all use the equals sign (=) just before the answer. It is pronounced ‘equals’ or ‘is’. Because the operation ‘equals’ the answer, the written operation is called an ‘equation’.

Addition is the process of adding, or combining numbers. For example, if you want to combine ten and five, the equation would be ‘ten plus five equals fifteen’ or ‘ten and five is fifteen’. It is written 10+5=15. The small cross between ten and five is the ‘plus sign’. The answer of an addition equation is called the ‘sum’.

Subtraction is the act of subtracting, or taking away numbers. For example, if you want to take five away from ten, the equation would be ‘ten minus five equals five’. It is written 10-5=5. The small line between ten and five is the ‘minus sign’. The answer of a subtraction equation is called the ‘difference’.

Multiplication is the operation of multiplying, or increasing, numbers. For example, if you want to multiply ten and five, the equation would be ‘ten times five equals fifty’ or ‘ten multiplied by five is fifty’. It is written 10×5=50 or 10*5=50. The answer of a multiplication equation is called the ‘product’. School children learn their multiplication tables, or ‘times tables’ in second grade.

Division is the process of dividing, or separating numbers into groups. For example, if you want to separate ten into groups of five, the equation is ‘ten divided by five equals two’ or ‘five goes into ten two times’. It is written 10÷5=2 or 10/5=2. Notice the symbols between ten and five used for division. The answer of a division equation is called the ‘quotient’.

More Vocabulary

‘Numerals’ or ‘digits’ are the symbols we write for numbers. For example, the numeral, or digit, for ‘five’ is ‘5’. We use Arabic numerals in American English.

Numbers higher than zero are positive. Numbers less than zero are negative. Negative numbers are written with a minus sign before them, which is pronounced: -22 is pronounced ‘minus twenty-two’ or ‘negative twenty-two’.

You might see the word ‘maths’, spelled with an ‘s’ at the end. This is the British English form of ‘math’.

For numbers vocabulary about measurements, see Slow American English Episode 51: The US Measurement System.

Numbers in Writing

For numbers more than 999, use a comma to separate every three digits: 1,000 for one thousand or 2,000,000 for two million.

Use a dot, or period, to show parts of a number, such as tenths, hundredths and thousandths. (This is different than the European way, so be careful when dealing with international numbers.) These are decimal numbers. The dot is called a ‘decimal point’ and it is pronounced ‘point’ as well. For example: 4.356 is ‘four point three five six’.

In formal writing, if a number begins a sentence, you must write out the words. Also write out the words for a number less than ten. For all other numbers, use digits.

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