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Translate Words to Algebraic Expressions
In the previous section, we listed many operation symbols that are used in algebra, and then we translated expressions and equations into word phrases and sentences. Now we’ll reverse the process and translate word phrases into algebraic expressions. The symbols and variables we’ve talked about will help us do that. They are summarized in Table \(\PageIndex{3}\).
Operation  Phrase  Expression 

Addition  a plus b the sum of a and b a increased by b b more than a the total of a and b b added to a  a + b 
Subtraction  a minus b the difference of a and b b subtracted from a a decreased by b b less than a  a  b 
Multiplication  a times b the product of a and b  a • b, ab, a(b), (a)(b) 
Division  a divided by b the quotient of a and b the ratio of a and b b divided into a  a ÷ b, a / b, \(\dfrac{a}{b}\), \(b \overline{) a}\) 
Look closely at these phrases using the four operations:
 the sum of \(a\) and \(b\)
 the difference of \(a\) and \(b\)
 the product of \(a\) and \(b\)
 the quotient of \(a\) and \(b\)
Each phrase tells you to operate on two numbers. Look for the words of and and to find the numbers.
Example \(\PageIndex{11}\): translate
Translate each word phrase into an algebraic expression:
 the difference of \(20\) and \(4\)
 the quotient of \(10x\) and \(3\)
Solution
 The key word is difference, which tells us the operation is subtraction. Look for the words of and and to find the numbers to subtract.
the difference of \(20\) and \(4\)
\(20\) minus \(4\)
\(20 − 4\)
 The key word is quotient, which tells us the operation is division.
the quotient of \(10x\) and \(3\)
divide \(10x\) by \(3\)
\(10x ÷ 3\)
This can also be written as 1\(0x / 3\) or \(\dfrac{10x}{3}\)
exercise \(\PageIndex{21}\)
Translate the given word phrase into an algebraic expression:
 the difference of \(47\) and \(41\)
 the quotient of \(5x\) and \(2\)
 Answer a

\(4741\)
 Answer b

\(5x\div 2\)
exercise \(\PageIndex{22}\)
Translate the given word phrase into an algebraic expression:
 the sum of \(17\) and \(19\)
 the product of \(7\) and \(x\)
 Answer a

\(17+19\)
 Answer b

\(7x\)
How old will you be in eight years? What age is eight more years than your age now? Did you add \(8\) to your present age? Eight more than means eight added to your present age.
How old were you seven years ago? This is seven years less than your age now. You subtract \(7\) from your present age. Seven less than means seven subtracted from your present age.
Example \(\PageIndex{12}\): translate
Translate each word phrase into an algebraic expression:
 Eight more than \(y\)
 Seven less than \(9z\)
Solution
 The key words are more than. They tell us the operation is addition. More than means “added to”.
Eight more than \(y\)
Eight added to \(y\)
\(y + 8\)
 The key words are less than. They tell us the operation is subtraction. Less than means “subtracted from”.
Seven less than \(9z\)
Seven subtracted from \(9z\)
\(9z − 7\)
exercise \(\PageIndex{23}\)
Translate each word phrase into an algebraic expression:
 Eleven more than \(x\)
 Fourteen less than \(11a\)
 Answer a

\(x+11\)
 Answer b

\(11a14\)
exercise \(\PageIndex{24}\)
Translate each word phrase into an algebraic expression:
 \(19\) more than \(j\)
 \(21\) less than \(2x\)
 Answer a

\(j+19\)
 Answer b

\(2x21\)
Example \(\PageIndex{13}\): translate
Translate each word phrase into an algebraic expression:
 five times the sum of \(m\) and \(n\)
 the sum of five times \(m\) and \(n\)
Solution
 There are two operation words: times tells us to multiply and sum tells us to add. Because we are multiplying \(5\) times the sum, we need parentheses around the sum of \(m\) and \(n\).
five times the sum of \(m\) and \(n\)
\(5(m + n)\)
 To take a sum, we look for the words of and and to see what is being added. Here we are taking the sum of five times \(m\) and \(n\).
the sum of five times \(m\) and \(n\)
\(5m + n\)
Notice how the use of parentheses changes the result. In part (a), we add first and in part (b), we multiply first.
exercise \(\PageIndex{25}\)
Translate the word phrase into an algebraic expression:
 four times the sum of \(p\) and \(q\)
 the sum of four times \(p\) and \(q\)
 Answer a

\(4(p+q)\)
 Answer b

\(4p+q\)
exercise \(\PageIndex{26}\)
Translate the word phrase into an algebraic expression:
 the difference of two times \(x\) and \(8\)
 two times the difference of \(x\) and \(8\)
 Answer a

\(2x8\)
 Answer b

\(2(x8)\)
Later in this course, we’ll apply our skills in algebra to solving equations. We’ll usually start by translating a word phrase to an algebraic expression. We’ll need to be clear about what the expression will represent. We’ll see how to do this in the next two examples.
Example \(\PageIndex{14}\): write an expression
The height of a rectangular window is 6 inches less than the width. Let w represent the width of the window. Write an expression for the height of the window.
Solution
Write a phrase about the height.  6 less than the width 
Substitute w for the width.  6 less than w 
Rewrite 'less than' as 'subtracted from'.  6 subtracted from w 
Translate the phrase into algebra.  w  6 
exercise \(\PageIndex{27}\)
The length of a rectangle is \(5\) inches less than the width. Let \(w\) represent the width of the rectangle. Write an expression for the length of the rectangle.
 Answer

\(w5\)
exercise \(\PageIndex{28}\)
The width of a rectangle is \(2\) meters greater than the length. Let \(l\) represent the length of the rectangle. Write an expression for the width of the rectangle.
 Answer

\(l+2\)
Example \(\PageIndex{15}\): write an expression
Blanca has dimes and quarters in her purse. The number of dimes is \(2\) less than \(5\) times the number of quarters. Let \(q\) represent the number of quarters. Write an expression for the number of dimes.
Solution
Write a phrase about the number of dimes.  two less than five times the number of quarters 
Substitute q for the number of quarters.  2 less than five times q 
Translate 5 times q.  2 less than 5q 
Translate the phrase into algebra.  5q  2 
exercise \(\PageIndex{29}\)
Geoffrey has dimes and quarters in his pocket. The number of dimes is seven less than six times the number of quarters. Let \(q\) represent the number of quarters. Write an expression for the number of dimes.
 Answer

\(6q7\)
exercise \(\PageIndex{30}\)
Lauren has dimes and nickels in her purse. The number of dimes is eight more than four times the number of nickels. Let \(n\) represent the number of nickels. Write an expression for the number of dimes.
 Answer

\(4n+8\)
Access Additional Online Resources
Key Concepts
 Combine like terms.
 Identify like terms.
 Rearrange the expression so like terms are together.
 Add the coefficients of the like terms
Glossary
 term

A term is a constant or the product of a constant and one or more variables.
 coefficient

The constant that multiplies the variable(s) in a term is called the coefficient.
 like terms

Terms that are either constants or have the same variables with the same exponents are like terms.
 evaluate

To evaluate an algebraic expression means to find the value of the expression when the variable is replaced by a given number.
Practice Makes Perfect
Evaluate Algebraic Expressions
In the following exercises, evaluate the expression for the given value.
 7x + 8 when x = 2
 9x + 7 when x = 3
 5x − 4 when x = 6
 8x − 6 when x = 7
 x^{2} when x = 12
 x^{3} when x = 5
 x^{5} when x = 2
 x^{4} when x = 3
 3^{x} when x = 3
 4^{x} when x = 2
 x^{2} + 3x − 7 when x = 4
 x^{2} + 5x − 8 when x = 6
 2x + 4y − 5 when x = 7, y = 8
 6x + 3y − 9 when x = 6, y = 9
 (x − y)^{2} when x = 10, y = 7
 (x + y)^{2} when x = 6, y = 9
 a^{2} + b^{2} when a = 3, b = 8
 r^{2} − s^{2} when r = 12, s = 5
 2l + 2w when l = 15, w = 12
 2l + 2w when l = 18, w = 14
Identify Terms, Coefficients, and Like Terms
In the following exercises, list the terms in the given expression.
 15x^{2} + 6x + 2
 11x^{2} + 8x + 5
 10y^{3} + y + 2
 9y^{3} + y + 5
In the following exercises, identify the coefficient of the given term.
 8a
 13m
 5r^{2}
 6x^{3}
In the following exercises, identify all sets of like terms.
 x^{3}, 8x, 14, 8y, 5, 8x^{3}
 6z, 3w^{2}, 1, 6z^{2}, 4z, w^{2}
 9a, a^{2}, 16ab, 16b^{2}, 4ab, 9b^{2}
 3, 25r^{2}, 10s, 10r, 4r^{2}, 3s
Simplify Expressions by Combining Like Terms
In the following exercises, simplify the given expression by combining like terms.
 10x + 3x
 15x + 4x
 17a + 9a
 18z + 9z
 4c + 2c + c
 6y + 4y + y
 9x + 3x + 8
 8a + 5a + 9
 7u + 2 + 3u + 1
 8d + 6 + 2d + 5
 7p + 6 + 5p + 4
 8x + 7 + 4x − 5
 10a + 7 + 5a − 2 + 7a − 4
 7c + 4 + 6c − 3 + 9c − 1
 3x^{2} + 12x + 11 + 14x^{2} + 8x + 5
 5b^{2} + 9b + 10 + 2b^{2} + 3b − 4
Translate English Phrases into Algebraic Expressions
In the following exercises, translate the given word phrase into an algebraic expression.
 The sum of 8 and 12
 The sum of 9 and 1
 The difference of 14 and 9
 8 less than 19
 The product of 9 and 7
 The product of 8 and 7
 The quotient of 36 and 9
 The quotient of 42 and 7
 The difference of x and 4
 3 less than x
 The product of 6 and y
 The product of 9 and y
 The sum of 8x and 3x
 The sum of 13x and 3x
 The quotient of y and 3
 The quotient of y and 8
 Eight times the difference of y and nine
 Seven times the difference of y and one
 Five times the sum of x and y
 Nine times five less than twice x
In the following exercises, write an algebraic expression.
 Adele bought a skirt and a blouse. The skirt cost $15 more than the blouse. Let b represent the cost of the blouse. Write an expression for the cost of the skirt.
 Eric has rock and classical CDs in his car. The number of rock CDs is 3 more than the number of classical CDs. Let c represent the number of classical CDs. Write an expression for the number of rock CDs.
 The number of girls in a secondgrade class is 4 less than the number of boys. Let b represent the number of boys. Write an expression for the number of girls.
 Marcella has 6 fewer male cousins than female cousins. Let f represent the number of female cousins. Write an expression for the number of boy cousins.
 Greg has nickels and pennies in his pocket. The number of pennies is seven less than twice the number of nickels. Let n represent the number of nickels. Write an expression for the number of pennies.
 Jeannette has $5 and $10 bills in her wallet. The number of fives is three more than six times the number of tens. Let t represent the number of tens. Write an expression for the number of fives.
Everyday Math
In the following exercises, use algebraic expressions to solve the problem.
 Car insurance Justin’s car insurance has a $750 deductible per incident. This means that he pays $750 and his insurance company will pay all costs beyond $750. If Justin files a claim for $2,100, how much will he pay, and how much will his insurance company pay?
 Home insurance Pam and Armando’s home insurance has a $2,500 deductible per incident. This means that they pay $2,500 and their insurance company will pay all costs beyond $2,500. If Pam and Armando file a claim for $19,400, how much will they pay, and how much will their insurance company pay?
Writing Exercises
 Explain why “the sum of x and y” is the same as “the sum of y and x,” but “the difference of x and y” is not the same as “the difference of y and x.” Try substituting two random numbers for x and y to help you explain. 146. Explain the difference between “4 times the sum of x and y” and “the sum of 4 times x and y.”
Self Check
(a) After completing the exercises, use this checklist to evaluate your mastery of the objectives of this section.
(b) After reviewing this checklist, what will you do to become confident for all objectives?
Contributors and Attributions
 Lynn Marecek (Santa Ana College) andMaryAnne AnthonySmith (formerly of Santa Ana College). This content produced byOpenStaxand is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution License 4.0license.