Understanding meaning of the mathematical expressions

Home / Education Print This Page Print Recommend us

When solving mathematical problems, it is essential to know the meaning of the expressions you see on a test or a homework problem. If you don’t understand the meaning of the expression, you won’t be able to correctly do the problem. This post covers meaning behind equality and the four basic mathematical expressions: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.


This is about having equal or same parts. An equal symbol (=) is used to indicate equality, in mathematics. Following are some of the mathematical expression meaning equality:

  • x is equal to y
  • x is equivalent to y
  • x is the same y

Each of these expressions means both x and y are equal or equivalent.


In mathematics, when we are talking about adding, we are talking about increasing. Increasing what and why how much is indicated in the problem. Observe the following expressions:

  • total of x and y
  • sum of x and y
  • x added to y
  • x increased by y

These mathematical expressions mean add x to y or x + y. A plus sign (+) indicates an addition operation.


In mathematics, subtraction is about reducing or making less. Again, as for addition, what you are reducing and by how much are dependent on the mathematical problem. The following are some of the mathematical expressions you may encounter while working with subtractions:

  • x less y
  • x minus y
  • the difference between x and y
  • from x subtract y
  • x decreased by y
  • x diminished by y

These mathematical expressions mean subtract y from x or x - y. A sign indicating subtraction is -.


With multiplication in general the result is increased, just with addition. The result depends on what your mathematical expression. Here are mathematical expressions that all mean the same:

  • x multiplied by y
  • the product of x and y

In each of the above expressions, the meaning is that we want to multiply x by y, or x * y. * or X indicate multiplication.


Division is similar to a subtraction operation in the sense that they both in general produce a lower (not the lowest!) resulting value than the numbers used for the carrying out the operations. 12 - 4 = 8 and 12 / 4 =3 is a good example of this statement. Here are some expressions indicating division operations:

  • x divided by y
  • the quotient of x and y

÷ and / indicate division.

Posted on:

Laugh a little with these jokes

1. Why do Indian people never fail? Because they keep finding more ways of how something does not work (they keep looking for solutions)!

2. Why did not a wrestler want to fly in an airplane? He thought the airplane did not have any muscles to lift him.

3. Why is a photographer'ts son giving smiles during a lightning storm? The son thinks his dad is taking pictures!

Rate this post

Rate it: Rate this post as Great! Rate this post as Poor!
167 out of 205
Positive rating
81% indicated great
38 out of 205
Poor rating
19% indicated poor

As part of ongoing efforts to improve this blog, please consider rating this page. Please tell us and other readers about the overall usefulness of this page to you. Please note multiple rating attempts for the same page are not permitted. Only one rating is allowed per visitor per page.

Free e-newsletter
Join our e-newsletter list to receive the latest updates
Sign up for our e-newsletter


© 2014 www.GiantPile.com. All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer: GiantPile (www.GiantPile.com) blog posts, and other features found here are for informational purposes only and on "as is" basis. To the best of our abilities, GiantPile believes the information contained herein is accurate and true. However, this service is not a substitute for professional, academic, or legal advice. Please seek qualified help if so desired. By using this blog, you dissolve GiantPile of any consequences that may arise from such use. Please see terms of use for more information.