A Trick for Adding and Subtracting Negative Numbers

A Trick for Adding and Subtracting Negative Numbers


With all of the rules and scenarios, remembering how to add and subtract negative numbers can be difficult. Here’s a little trick to help you remember. Let’s say we want to solve 3 plus -7. First, imagine a number line with a bird sitting on our first number, 3. The operation plus or minus tells you which end of the number line to look at. Since we’re adding, our little bird will look right toward the positive end. Our second number tells us how far to move and which direction to move. We’ll move forward if it’s positive and backwards if it’s negative. Since our second number is a -7, our little bird is going to move backwards seven spaces. Since he landed at -4, that’s our answer: 3 plus -7 equals -4. Let’s try another one. What about -2 minus -4? Our first number is -2, so that’s where we’ll start. Our operation is a minus, so our bird will look left towards the negative end. Our second number is a -4; therefore, our bird will move backwards 4 spaces. Our bird landed at +2, and that’s our answer: -2 minus -4 equals 2. Let’s recap. The first number is where you start. The operation tells you where to look: Plus, right, or minus, left. The second number tells you how far to move and in which direction: positive, forward, or negative, backwards. Where you land is your answer. That’s it! You now know a trick for adding and subtracting negative numbers.

71 thoughts on “A Trick for Adding and Subtracting Negative Numbers”

  1. Thank you so much because before i watched a lot videos but it didn't work. when i watched you are video it helped me so much. so thank u so much.

  2. This is a great way to teach addition and subtraction for grade 1 kids. Thank you very much for loading this video on YouTube.

  3. This is exactly how I teach adding and subtracting integers, but instead of using a little birdie I use an image of Michael Jackson. If the second number is negative, then I have MJ MOONWALK back the number of places until he lands on a number.

  4. I don’t know how to thank you! I was suffering in negative numbers and now I get them better than I used to. Thank you so so soooooooooooooo much!

  5. I'm an idiot at math. I'm so confused. If it's negative four, why move to the positive side? Wouldn't you move to the negative side? What's the point in this crap? (and by crap I mean algebra).

  6. Thank you for this video it really helped me at school. it helped me with my adding and subtracting of the numbers and which way to do it. i learnt that + – = – and – – = + also + + = +

  7. thank you soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much for helping me now i can do my exams peacefully <3

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