Even the most common terms used in math can be confusing. As such, we’ve created a simple breakdown of some of the most common vocabulary terms, broken down by mathematical function. Of course, we couldn’t fit every single term in here, but we’ve created a comprehensive list to help students study and complete their homework.

Addition: Increase, more, and, combined, together, both, total, sum, in all, plus, add, perimeter

Subtraction: Decrease, subtract, minus, less, fewer, reduced, difference, change, between, remain, used, how many more/less, how many are left

Multiplication: Of*, per*, each/every*, by, double, triple, quadruple, twice, times, multiplied, product, area

Division: Of*, per*, each/every*, out of, ratio, fraction (& half, third, fourth, etc), quotient, percent

Equals: Is, are, was, were, will be, gives, results, yields, same as, equal to, equivalent,

• >: More than, greater
• <: Less/fewer than, under
• : At least, minimum, lowest, smallest
• : At most, no more than, maximum, most, biggest

Exponent: Power, squared, cubed

Variable: What, unknown, a number (I usually use “n” instead of the more common “x” so as to not confuse it with a multiplication sign)

* Look at the context of the question to determine if multiplication or division is required.

### More Tips

Usually, you can just go in order of the sentence, translating the words into math terms one at a time.

A number multiplied by 9 is 3 more than the product of 5 and 7.

n x 9 = 3 + 5 x 7

one-third of 15 is equal to the quotient of 21 and what?

⅓ x 15 = 21 / n

The ratio of 9 more than x to x is the same as twice x.

(9 + x) / x = 2x

20% of 160 is equivalent to 25 minus and unknown

.2 x 160 = 25 – n

NOTE: convert a percent to a decimal before using it in a math equation by moving the decimal backwards twice (“to the left, to the left”).

Some expressions, like “less than” need to be written in reverse order in the math equation.

7 less than what number gives 19? n – 7 = 19