Basic Math Terms Every Student Needs To Know (Alphabetical Order)

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Math isn't just doing computations, it's about having insights into the reasons "behind" why things are true.

Here is a list basic Math Terms in alphabetical order. I hope you find it useful.

Go to Section 1

Addend,  Addition/Add,  Ascending Order,  Common Factor,  Common Multiple,  Consecutive Numbers,  Consecutive Even Numbers,  Consecutive Odd Numbers,  Counting Numbers 

Go to Section 2

Denominator,  Descending Order,  Difference,  Dividend/Divisor/Quotient/Remainder,  Divisible,  Division,  Equal/Equation,  Equivalent Fraction,  Even Number,  Factor,  Fraction,  GCF/HCF,  Improper Fraction,  Less Than 

Go to Section 3

Mixed Number/Mixed Fraction,  More Than,  Multiple,  Multiply/Multiplication/Times,  Negative Number,  Number Bond,  Number Line,  Numerals,  Numerator 

Go to Section 4

Odd Number,  Order of Operations,  Ordering Numbers,  Ordinal Numbers,  Percent/Percentage,  Place/Place Value,  Product,  Proportion,  Subtraction



An addend is a number on the left hand side of an Addition Math sentence or equation. In this example: 21 + 52 = 73, the addends are 21 and 52.

The sum must always bigger than either addend.This fact is useful for helping the student do a quick check on whether his answer is correct.

Addition, Add

Addition is a basic Math operation.  To add means to combine numbers to form a bigger number. When we add, the addends are always smaller than the sum.

Some addition equations may actually require the student to do a reverse addition when the addend is the unknown.

Example:     ___ + 24 = 33

To find the addend,we have to ask "What number is needed to make 24 into 33?"

A reverse addition is like carrying out subtraction.

Download these free cards to practice addition. The more players there are, the more fun it is!

Learn more.

Related Concepts:

  Number Bond, Number Line 

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Ascending Order

Writing numbers in ascending order means writing the number in order of size starting with the smallest.

You can think of ascending order as going up a flight of stairs or numbers getting bigger.

Ordering numbers helps develop number sense.

The best way to practice this is to write some numbers on small cards. Jumble up the cards, then let your child arrange them in ascending order.  Make it into a race to see who can arrange their numbers fastest.

Learn more.

     Related Concepts: Consecutive Numbers, Descending Order,

                                Ordering Numbers

Common Factor

A common factor is a factor that occurs in all the numbers being compared. There is a fixed number of common factors between numbers.

Example: What are the common factors of 12 and 30? 

     Factors of 12 = 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12
     Factors of 30 = 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 15, 30

Answer: 1, 2, 3, 6

   Related Concepts:   FactorGreatest Common Factor

Common Multiple

A common multiple is a multiple that occurs in all the numbers being compared. There is an infinite number of common multiples between numbers.
(See the section on Multiple and LCM.)

Example: What are the first 5 common multiples of 2 and 3? 

     Multiples of 2 = 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30 ...
     Multiples of 3 = 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, ...

Answer: 6, 12, 18, 24, 30

Click here for a list of multiples of 2 to 10 for easy reference.

Consecutive Numbers

This Math term refers to numbers that appear in running order (ex. 10, 11, 12...). The difference between each consecutive number is one.

Consecutive Even Numbers

These are even numbers that appear in running order (ex. 2, 4, 6...). The difference between each consecutive even number is two.

If X and Y represents two consecutive even numbers and Y is bigger than X, than we know the following is true:

Y - X = 2

Consecutive Odd Numbers

These are odd numbers that appear in running order (ex. 7, 9, 11...). The difference between each consecutive odd number is also two.

If M and N represents two consecutive odd numbers and N is bigger than M, than we know the following is true:

N - M = 2

More about numbers.

Counting Numbers

These are consecutive numbers starting from 1 (ex. 1, 2, 3...). Counting is the most basic skill your child learns in Math. Give them lots of different items to count. Lay the items in a line to help them understand the idea of a Number Line.  Even older kids would benefit greatly from counting. Teach them to group the items into groups of ten when counting a large number of items.

Click here to learn more on Counting Numbers.

Use common items to let your child practice counting


Table of Contents

In Maths, there are always lots of different ways to get to the right answer. Once your child understands that, he can can be free to try all methods, to work things out for himself and enjoy the process of learning and understanding Maths. Games help your child enjoy the learning process. Visit my store below for more free Math materials:



This Math term applies to a fraction. It is the bottom number in a fraction.  The top number in the fraction is called the numerator.

The numerator tells us the number of parts we want and the denominator tells us the total number of parts.
(See Fraction)

Descending Order

Writing numbers in descending order means writing the number in order of size starting with the biggest. You can think of descending order as going down a flight of stairs or numbers getting smaller.

Ordering numbers helps develop number sense.

More about numbers.


You find the difference of 2 numbers by subtracting the smaller number from the bigger (ex. the difference of 2 and 10 is 8. The difference of 10 and 2 is also 8).

The difference is the answer of a subtraction equation.

Dividend, Divisor, Quotient, Remainder

These Math terms relate to division. See the graphics below.

Dividend is the number to be divided.

Divisor is the number divided into or the number of groups.

Quotient is the answer you get after dividing. You can think of it as the number inside each group.

Remainder is the number left over. The remainder must always be smaller than the divisor.

If the remainder is bigger than the divisor it means the quotient is too small.


This Math term refers to division.

If we ask "Is 26 divisible by 3?" what we mean is "Can 26 be divided by 3 without leaving any remainder?"

If the answer is yes, than 26 is divisible by 3.
If the answer is no, then 26 is not divisible by 3. 

26 is not divisible by 3 because the answer is 8 with remainder 2.  That means we have 3 groups of 8 plus a 2 when we try to divide 26 by 3.

     Related Concept:  Factor


Division is a Math operation where you arrange (divide) a number into groups of smaller numbers. It is the opposite of multiplication.

There are 2 ways to think about division.

Example: "18 divided by 3 equals 6" can mean if you arrange 18 items into 3 groups you will get 6 items in each group.

Or it can mean if you arrange 18 items into groups of 3, you will get six groups.

Learn how to teach your child Long Division.

Table of Contents

Equal, Equation

This is perhaps the most important concept in all of Mathematics.

The equal sign (=) tells us that the answer on the left of it is exactly the same as the answer on the right of it.

Example:  9 + 2 = 4 + 7

The answer of 9 + 2 is 11. The answer of 4 + 7 is also 11. 
So 11 equals 11 is true.

It is this fact that makes it possible for us find the unknown number in Math questions.

We can also refer to the whole sentence as an Equation.

More examples:

             2 + __ = 7 

This equation tells us that we need to find a number that combines with 2 to give the answer 7.

              3 x ___ = 4 + 8

This equation tells us that we need to find a number that when multiplied by 3 will give the same answer as 4 combined with 8.

Equivalent Fraction

An equivalent fraction is a fraction that is the same size as another fraction but with more parts.

Imagine a chocolate cake and a plain cake of the same size. The chocolate cake is cut into 4 equal pieces. The plain cake is cut into 2 equal pieces.

2 pieces of the chocolate cake would be the same size as 1 piece of the plain cake.

We say that 2/4 is equivalent to 1/2.

Equivalent fractions are needed when we compare, add or subtract fractions with different denominators.

Get flashcards for practice:

Comparing Fractions Flash cards
Equivalent Fractions Flash cards

We do not use equivalent fractions to multiply or divide fractions.

Even Number

An even number is a number with the digit 0, 2, 4, 6 or 8 in the 'ones' place. Examples of even numbers: 4, 20, 38, 1110, 2378
(See Place Value)

The difference between two even numbers is 2.

Consecutive even numbers run in order: 34, 36, 38....


This Math term is similar to the term divisible.

If we want to know whether 2 is a factor of 25, what we really want to know is
"Can 25 be divided by 2 without leaving any remainder?"

If the answer is yes, than 2 is a factor of 25.
If the answer is no, then 2 is not a factor of 25.

So now we know that 2 is not a factor of 25 because there is a remainder of 1.

To find out whether one number is a factor of another, we have to divide the second number by the first.

If the result is a whole number with no remainder, then the first number is a factor of the second. 
(See also Divisible, GCF.)

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There are two ways to look at fractions.

One way is to think of breaking up a whole piece into smaller equal pieces. So half a cake means cutting a cake into 2 equal parts and taking only 1 of the parts. Or one piece out of two pieces.

This way is called 'parts of a whole'. 
The important thing to remember is that each piece must be of the same size as every other piece.

Another way to look at fractions is 'parts of a group' of items. In this case, each part does not have to be the same size. If there are 5 people in a room, two-fifths of them would mean 2 people (or 2 out of 5).

Fractions and division are related operations since we are breaking up a large number into smaller numbers.
(See Denominator, Division, Numerator)

More on Fractions:

Types of fractions,   Adding Fractions,    Subtracting Fractions,    Multiplying Fractions,   Mixed Numbers,   Simplifying Fractions

GCF (Greatest Common Factor) or HCF (Highest Common Factor)

These 2 Math terms have the same meaning.

If you want to find the GCF or HCF of a few numbers, you first find all the possible factors of each number.

Then you choose the biggest factor that can be found in each number.

Example: Find the HCF of 24 and 30.

    Factors of 24 = 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24
    Factors of 30 = 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 15, 30

The GCF (or HCF) of 24 and 30 is 6.

Improper Fraction

An improper fraction is one where the numerator is bigger than the denominator. It means that there is a whole number included in the fraction.

Less Than

This Math term occurs often in problem sums. 'Less ... Than' or 'fewer ... than' means 'smaller than'.

If John's height is less than George's height, it means the number for John's height is smaller than the number for George's height.

This concept is very important for your child to understand. Learn more in Basic Math Skills.

12 is less than 23


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Mixed Number or Mixed Fraction

A mixed number, also called mixed fraction, consists of a whole number and a fraction.

More Than

This Math term occurs often in problem sums. 'More ... than' also means 'bigger than' or 'in excess of' or 'extra'.

If John has more stickers than George, this means the number of John's stickers is bigger than the number of George's stickers.


A multiple is the result of a multiplication.

For example, the third multiple of 6 is 18 (the result of multiplying 3 and 6).

Another example: The question "Is 24 a multiple of 5?" really means
"Can 5 be multiplied by any number to give the answer 24?"

If the answer is yes, than 24 is a multiple of 5.

If the answer is no, then 24 is not a multiple of 5. 

Click here for a list of multiples for easy reference.

     Related Concept: Factor

Multiply, Multiplication or Times

Multiply means groups of the same numbers. We can think of multiplication in 2 ways.

For example: 2 x 5 can mean 2 groups of 5 or two 5's.
This is the same as 5 + 5. This is the better way to think about multiplication as it is more useful during problem sums.

Or it can be Repeated Addition.

2 x 5 can also mean to add 2, 5 times. Which gives us 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2. 

Either way, the answer will be the same.  Just remember to stick to one way so as not to confuse your child.


Multiplicand ,  Multiplier

If we take 3 x 6 to mean 3 groups of 6, or 6 + 6 + 6, then 3 is called the Multiplier and 6 is the Multiplicand.

Alternatively, if 3 x 6 means add 3 six times, or 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3, then 3 is called the Multiplicand and 6 is the Multiplier.

In both cases, 3 x 6 = 18, so 18 is the Product.

Whichever method you use to help your child understand Multiplication, remember that Multiplier is the number of groups or the number of 'repeats'.

Learn to multiply fractions here.

Negative Number

A negative number is a number that falls to the left of a number line.  It tells us how far away it is from the number zero (0).  For example, -5 is 5 steps away from 0.

So -2 is nearer to 0 than -10. 

Number Bond

A number bond is a concept of thinking about numbers as being made up of other numbers, similar to adding numbers.

Useful number bonds are those that form round numbers like 6, 4 and 10.

Number bonds make addition easier to understand.

Number Line

A number line is a horizontal line with markings to show the position of numbers relative to each other.

The numbers on the right of the line are bigger than the numbers on the left.


These are numbers written in symbols (ex. 1, 2, 3...) in contrast to numbers written in words (ex. one, two, three...).


This Math term applies to a fraction

It is the top number of a fraction.
The bottom number is called the denominator.

The numerator tells us the number of parts we want and the denominator tells us the total number of parts.
(See Fraction)

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Odd Number

An odd number is a number with the digit 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 in the 'ones' place. Examples of odd numbers are 5, 11, 45, 267, 4209, 9000.
(See Place Value)

Order of Operations

Order of Operations means the rules that govern how the operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division work together.  We need to know which operations to carry out first.

Click here to learn more.

Ordering Numbers

To write numbers in order means to write them in a particular sequence, either in ascending order (from small to big) or descending order from big to small).
Click here for 1 to 100 numbers chart.  Cut out the numbers to practice putting them in ascending or descending order.

Click here to learn more.

(See Ascending Order, Descending Order)

Learning to arrange numbers in order

Ordinal Numbers

These are numbers that refer to position. They can be written as numerals (ex. 1st, 2nd, 3rd...) or words (ex. first, second, third...)

Percent, Percentage

A percent is special type of fraction.  It is a fraction where the denominator is 100.  The symbol we use for percent is %.

Just like a fraction, a percent is a comparison of 2 numbers.  For example, 1% means 1 part out of 100 parts.

We can convert fractions into percentages and vice versa.

Learn more here.

Place, Place Value

Place refers to the position of the digit in a number.

Place Value is the value of the digit.

Numbers are made up of digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, ... 9). The value of each digit depends on its place or position.

For instance, the digit 2 in the 'tens' place has a value of twenty and a value of two if it is in the 'ones' place. 

Try this worksheet.


This Math term refers to the result of multiplication.

For example, the product of 5 and 8 is 40. (5 x 8 = 40)

(See Multiply, Multiplication, Times)


A proportion is similar to a fraction in that one number is compared to another. The 2 numbers have a fixed relationship. Another way to think about it is to think in terms of groups.  Each group must be the same.

Suppose apples are packed in bags of 7.  So there are 7 apples in one bag. Which means there will be 14 apples in 2 such bags or 35 apples in 5 bags.

We can write in out this way:

1 bag = 7 apples

2 bags = 14 apples

5 bags = 35 apples

As long as we know the proportion, we will be able to work out one number given another.  Using the same example, we will be able to work out how many apples are in 12 bags.  Or how many bags we need if we want 56 apples.

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Subtraction is the reverse of addition. It is a reduction of a number. The number being subtracted is called the minuend.  The subtrahend is the number used to reduce the minuend.

The answer is also called the difference.

Example:  44 - 27 = 14

More Topics

Math Terms by Topics
Long Division
Fun Math

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