Introduction to Word Problems

In algebra word problems are commonplace, though they confuse many. Use this free lesson to help you learn how to solve word problems.

Problem 2 Answer

Here's Problem 2:

Flor and Mo both donated money to the same charity. Flor gave three times as much as Mo. Between the two of them, they donated $280. How much money did Mo give?

Answer: $70

Let's go through this problem one step at a time.

Step 1: Read through the problem carefully

Start by asking what question the problem is asking you to solve and identifying the information that will help you solve it. What's the question here?

Flor and Mo both donated money to the same charity. Flor gave three times as much as Mo. Between the two of them, they donated $280. How much money did Mo give?

To solve the problem, you'll have to find out how much money Mo gave to charity. All the important information you need is in the problem:

Step 2: Represent the unknown numbers with variables

The unknown number we're trying to identify in this problem is Mo's donation. We'll represent it with the variable m.

Step 3: Translate the rest of the problem

Here's the problem again. This time, the important facts are highlighted.

Flor and Mo both donated money to the same charity. Flor gave three times as much as Mo. Between the two of them, they donated $280. How much money did Mo give?

The important facts of the problem could also be expressed this way:

Mo's donation plus Flor's donation equals $280

Because we know that Flor's donation is three times as much as Mo's donation, we could go even further and say:

Mo's donation plus three times Mo's donation equals $280

We can translate this into a math problem in only a few steps. Here's how:

  1. Because we've already said we'll represent the amount of Mo's donation with the variable m, let's start by replacing Mo's donation with m.
  2. m plus three times m equals $280

  3. Next, we can put in mathematical operators in place of certain words. We'll also take out the dollar sign.
  4. m + three times m = 280

  5. Finally, let's write three times mathematically. Three times m can also be written as 3 m, or just 3m.
  6. m + 3m = 280

Step 4: Solve the problem

It will only take a few steps to solve this problem.

  1. To get the correct answer, we'll have to get m alone on one side of the equation.
  2. m + 3m = 280

  3. To start, let's add m and 3m. That's 4m.
  4. 4m = 280

  5. We can get rid of the 4 next to the m by dividing both sides by 4. 4m / 4 is m, and 280 / 4 is 70.
  6. m = 70.

We've got our answer: m = 70. In other words, Mo donated $70.

Step 5: Check your work

The answer to our problem is $70, but we should check just to be sure. Let's look at our problem again.

Flor and Mo both donated money to the same charity. Flor gave three times as much as Mo. Between the two of them, they donated $280. How much money did Mo give?

If our answer is correct, $70 and three times $70 should add up to $280.

  1. We can write our new equation like this:
  2. 70 + 3 ⋅ 70 = 280

  3. The order of operations calls for us to multiply first. 3 ⋅ 70 is 210.
  4. 70 + 210 = 280

  5. The last step is to add 70 and 210. 70 plus 210 equals 280.
  6. 280 = 280

280 is the combined cost of the tickets in our original problem. Our answer is correct: Mo gave $70 to charity.

Assessment

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