Learn all about subtracting two-digit numbers and subtracting three-digit numbers in this free lesson, which includes practice problems.

### Borrowing

Sometimes when you subtract, you will notice that the top digit is smaller than the bottom. For example, take a look at this problem:

Normally, we'd start on the right with 5 - 9. However, since 9 is bigger than 5, we can't subtract normally. Instead, we have to use a technique called **borrowing**.

Let's see how it works.

First, we'll make sure the expression is set up correctly. The larger number is stacked on top of the smaller number.

As with all stacked subtraction problems, begin with the digits farthest to the right. Here, they are 5 and 9.

5 is smaller than 9, so we'll need to **borrow** to make 5 larger.

We'll borrow from the digit to the left of 5. Here, it's 7. We'll take 1 from it....

7 - 1 = 6. To help us remember that we subtracted 1, we'll cross out the 7 and write 6** above **it.

Then, we'll place the 1 we took **next **to the 5...

5 becomes 15. See how it looks like 15?

15 is larger than 9, which means we can subtract. We'll solve for 15 - 9.

15 - 9 = 6. We'll write 6 beneath the line.

Next, find the difference of the digits to the left: 6 - 2.

6 - 2 = 4. We'll write 4 beneath the line.

Our answer is 46. 75 - 29 = 46.

As you borrow, always cross out the digit you borrow from and write the new value **above **it. Remember to always place the 1 **next **to the smaller digit.

#### Try This!

Try these problems to practice borrowing. Check your answer by typing it into the box.

#### Borrowing More Than Once

Sometimes the top number might have two or more digits that are smaller than the digits beneath them. In that case, you'll need to borrow more than once. It will always work the same way. You'll always **subtract 1** from the digit to the left and place 1** next** to the smaller digit.

In some cases, you might notice that the number to the left is zero. Check out the slideshow below to see an example of what to do.

Let's look at the example 300 minus 54. We would begin on the right with 0 minus 4. However, zero is smaller than 4, so we would need to borrow from the next digit to the left.

The next digit to the left, however, is zero! We can't borrow if nothing is there. So what do we do?

We have to go to the next digit to the left. Think of it like asking your neighbor for a cup of sugar. If the first neighbor doesn't have any, you would move to the next neighbor over to ask for some to borrow.

Since the next number over is 3, we'll borrow from that.

Just like when we borrow normally, we'll subtract 1 from 3 to make it 2. We'll place the 1 next to the number on the right to make it 10.

Just like when we borrow normally, we'll subtract 1 from 3 to make it 2. We'll place the 1 next to the number on the right to make it 10.

Remember though, we originally needed to borrow in order to do 0 minus 4. Now that we have 10 in the middle, we can borrow from it.

Cross out the 10 and subtract 1 to make it 9.

Then, place the 1 next to the 0 in order to make it 10. Now you're ready to subtract.

10 minus 4 is 6.

9 minus 5 is 4.

There is nothing to subtract from the 2, so we just bring it down, and we're finished!

The answer is 246.

#### Try This!

Try solving these subtraction problems to practice borrowing more than one time. Check your answer by typing it in the box.