Reading Algebraic Expressions

Reading algebraic expressions can be confusing for some. Use this lesson on reading algebraic equations to help you better understand them.

Other parts of algebraic expressions

Parentheses

You're probably used to seeing parentheses used in writing, most often with part of a sentence that isn't essential (although they can also be used for other things). In algebra, parentheses are used a bit differently. Parentheses are used to group parts of an algebraic expression. When you see part of an algebra problem enclosed in parentheses, you'll need to solve that part before tackling the rest of the problem.

7 + (40 / x) = 15

In this problem, you would start by solving everything in the parentheses first; then you'd solve everything else.

Curious about why you solve the part in parentheses first? Check out our lesson on the order of operations.

What happens when two sets of parentheses are next to each other, without any operators in between?

(3)(5)

If you remembered that two variables next to each other are multiplied, you might guess that you would multiply two sets of parentheses side by side too. So (3)(5) is equal to 3 ⋅ 5, which is equal to 15.

Exponents

Exponents are numbers that have been multiplied by themselves. For instance, let's look at the exponent 103.

103

103 is simply another way of saying 10 has been multiplied by itself 3 times. In other words, it's equal to 10 ⋅ 10 ⋅ 10. You can learn more in our exponents lesson.

Assessment

Want even more practice? Try out a short assessment to test your skills by clicking the link below:

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