Linear Inequalities
In mathematics, inequality occurs when a nonequal comparison is made between two mathematical expressions or two numbers. In general, inequalities can be either numerical inequality or algebraic inequality or a combination of both. Linear inequalities are inequalities when two linear algebraic expressions of degree 1 are compared. There are several ways to represent various kinds of linear inequalities.
In this article, let us learn about linear inequalities, solving linear inequalities, graphing linear inequalities.
What Are Linear Inequalities?
Linear inequalities are defined as expressions in which two linear expressions are compared using the inequality symbols. The five symbols that are used to represent the linear inequalities are listed below:
Symbol Name  Symbol  Example 

Not equal  ≠  x ≠ 3 
Less than  (<)  x + 7 < √2 
Greater than  (>)  1 + 10x > 2 + 16x 
Less than or equal to  (≤)  y ≤ 4 
Greater than or equal to  (≥)  3  √3x ≥ 10 
We need to note that if, p < q, then p is some number that is strictly less than q. If p ≤ q, then it means that p is some number that is either strictly less than q or is exactly equal to q. Likewise, the same applies to the remaining two inequalities > (greater than) and ≥ (greater than or equal to).
Now, Let's say we have a linear inequality, 3x  4 < 20. In this case LHS < RHS. We can see that the expression on the lefthand side, that is, 3x  4 is in fact lesser than the number on the righthand side, which is 20. We can represent this inequality pictorially on a weighing scale as:
Rules of Linear Inequalities
The 4 types of operations that are done on linear inequalities are addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Linear inequalities with the same solution are called equivalent inequality. There are rules for both equality and inequality. All the rules mentioned below are also true for inequalities involving lesser than or equal to (≤), and greater than or equal to (≥). Before learning how to solve linear inequalities, let's look at some of the important rules of inequality for all these operations.
Addition Rule of Linear Inequalities:
As per the addition rule of linear inequalities, adding the same number to each side of the inequality produces an equivalent inequality, that is the inequality symbol does not change.
If x > y, then x + a > y + a and if x < y, then x + a < y + a.
Subtraction Rule of Linear Inequalities:
As per the subtraction rule of linear inequalities, subtracting the same number from each side of the inequality produces an equivalent inequality, that is the inequality symbol does not change.
If x > y, then x − a > y − a and if x < y, then x − a < y − a.
Multiplication Rule of Linear Inequalities:
As per the multiplication rule of linear inequalities, multiplication on both sides of an inequality with a positive number always produces an equivalent inequality, that is the inequality symbol does not change.
If x > y and a > 0, then x × a > y × a and if x < y and a > 0, then x × a < y × a, Here, × is used as the multiplication symbol.
On the other hand, multiplication on both sides of the inequality with a negative number does not produce an equivalent inequality unless we also reverse the direction of the inequality symbol.
If x > y and a < 0, then x × a < y × a and if x < y and a < 0, then x × a > y × a.
Division Rule of Linear Inequalities:
As per the division rule of linear inequalities, division of both sides of an inequality with a positive number produces an equivalent inequality, that is the inequality symbol does not change.
If x > y and a > 0, then (x/a) > (y/a) and if x < y and a > 0, then (x/a) < (y/a).
On the other hand, the division of both sides of an inequality with a negative number produces an equivalent inequality if the inequality symbol is reversed.
If x > y and a < 0, then (x/a) < (y/a) and if x < y and a < 0, then (x/a) > (y/a)
Solving Linear Inequalities
Solving multistep one variable linear inequalities is the same as solving multistep linear equations; begin by isolating the variable from the constants. As per the rules of inequalities, while we are solving multistep linear inequalities, it is important for us to not forget to reverse the inequality sign when multiplying or dividing with negative numbers.
 Step 1: Simplify the inequality on both sides  on LHS as well as RHS as per the rules of inequality.
 Step 2: When the value is obtained, if the inequality is a strict inequality, the solution for x is less than or greater than the value obtained as defined in the question. And, if the inequality is not a strict inequality, then the solution for x is less than or equal to or greater than or equal to the value obtained as defined in the question.
Now, let's try solving an example of linear inequalities to understand the concept.
2x + 3 > 7
To solve this linear inequality, we would follow the belowgiven steps:
2x > 7  3 ⇒ 2x > 4 ⇒ x > 2
The solution to this inequality will be the set of all values of x for which this inequality x > 2 is satisfied, that is, all real numbers strictly greater than 2.
Solving Linear Inequalities with Variable on Both Sides
Let us try solving linear inequalities with one variable by applying the concept we learned. Consider the following example.
3x  15 > 2x + 11
We proceed as follows:
15  11 > 2x  3x ⇒  26 >  x ⇒ x > 26
Solving Systems of Linear Inequalities by Graphing
The system of twovariable linear inequalities is of the form ax + by > c and ax + by ≤ c. The signs of inequalities can change as per the set of inequalities given. To solve a system of twovariable linear inequalities, we must have at least two inequalities. Now, to solve a system of twovariable linear inequalities, let us consider an example.
2y  x > 1 and y  2x < 1
First, we will plot the given inequalities on the graph. To do that, follow the given steps:
 Replace the inequality sign with equal to =, that is, we have 2y  x = 1 and y  2x = 1. Since the linear inequality is strict, we draw dotted lines on the graph.
 Check if the origin (0, 0) satisfies the given linear inequalities. If it does, then shade the side of the line which includes the origin. If the origin does not satisfy the linear inequality, shade the side of the line which does not include the origin.
For 2y  x > 1, substitute (0, 0) we have: 2 × 0  0 > 1 ⇒ 0 > 1 which is not true. Hence, shade the side of the line 2y  x = 1 which does not include origin. Simillarly, for y  2x < 1, substituting (0, 0), we have: 0  2 × 0 < 1 ⇒ 0 < 1 which is not true. Hence, hade the side of the line y  2x = 1 which does not include origin.  The common shaded will be the feasible region that forms the solution of the system of linear inequalities. If there is no common shaded region, then the solution does not exist. The pink region in the graph given below shows the solution of the given system of linear inequalities.
Graphing Linear Inequalities
Linear inequalities with one variable are plotted on a number line, as the output gives the solution of one variable. Hence, graphing one variable linear inequalities is done using a number line only. On the contrary, linear inequalities with two variables are plotted on a twodimensional graph, as the output gives the solution of two variables. Hence, graphing of twovariable linear inequalities is done using a graph.
Graphing One Variable Linear Inequalities
Let's consider the below example.
4x > 3x + 21
The solution in this case is simple.
4x + 3x > 21 ⇒ 7x > 21 ⇒ x > 3
This can be plotted on a number line as:
Any point lying on the blue part of the number line will satisfy this inequality. Note that in this case, we have drawn a hollow dot at point 3. This is to indicate that 3 is not a part of the solution set (this is because the given inequality has a strict inequality). As per the solution obtained, the blue part of the number line satisfies the inequality. Let's take another example of linear inequality:
3x + 1 ≤ 7
We proceed as follows:
3x ≤ 7  1 ⇒ 3x ≤ 6 ⇒ x ≤ 2
We want to represent this solution set on a number line. Thus, we highlight that part of the number line lying to the left of 2
We see that any number lying on the red part of the number line will satisfy this inequality and so it is a part of the solution set for this inequality. Note that we have drawn a solid dot exactly at point 2. This is to indicate that 2 is also a part of the solution set.
Related Articles on Linear Inequalities
Check out the following pages related to linear inequalities
 Linear Inequalities with Two Variables
 Inequalities Involving Absolute Values
 Multiplying Polynomials
 Special Cases in Linear Equations
 One Variable Linear Equations and Inequations
Important Notes on Linear Inequalities
Here is a list of a few points that should be remembered while studying linear inequalities:
 In the case of linear inequalities, some other relationship like less than or greater than exists between LHS and RHS.
 A linear inequality is called so due to the highest power of the variable being 1.
 "Less than" and "greater than" are strict inequalities while "less than or equal to" and "greater than or equal to" are not strict linear inequalities.
 For every linear inequality which uses strict linear inequality, the value obtained for x is shown by a hollow dot. It shows that the value obtained is excluded.
 For every linear inequality which is not strict inequality, the value obtained for x is shown by a solid dot. It shows that the value obtained is included.
Examples on Linear Inequalities

Example 1. How will Shawn find the solution to the linear inequality, 2x  39 ≥ 15, and plot it on a number line?
Solution: Shawn will solve the problem in the following way:
 2x  39 ≥  15 ⇒  2x ≥ 24
⇒ 2x ≤  24 ⇒ x ≤  12
The linear inequality will be plotted on a number line in the following way:
The solution set is plotted above. Shawn can say that any number lying on the red part of the number line will satisfy this linear inequality and so it is a part of the solution set for this inequality. Hence, he has drawn a solid dot exactly at the point 12. This is to indicate that 12 is also a part of the solution set.
Answer: Therefore, Shawn found x ≤ 12

Example 2. Solve the linear inequalities in this linear inequality 2x  5 > 3  7x
Solution: Let us proceed in the following way to solve the given linear inequality:
2x + 7x > 3 + 5 ⇒ 9x > 8 ⇒ x > 8/9
x > 8/9 is the solution for the linear inequality 2x  5 > 3  7x
FAQs on Linear Inequalities
What are Linear Inequalities in Algebra?
Linear inequalities are defined as expressions in which two linear expressions are compared using the inequality symbols. These expressions could be numerical or algebraic or a combination of both.
What Is an Example of Linear Inequality?
An example of linear inequality is x  5 > 3x  10. Here, the LHS is strictly greater than the RHS since greater than symbol is used in this inequality. After solving, the inequality looks like this: 2x > 5 ⇒ x > (5/2).
What Are the RealLife Uses of Linear Inequalities?
Inequalities are most often used in many reallife problems than equalities to determine the best solution to a problem. This solution can be as simple as finding how many of a product should be produced in order to maximize a profit or it can be as complicated as finding the correct combination of drugs to be given to a patient.
What Are the Uses of Linear Inequalities in Businesses?
Businesses use inequalities to create pricing models, plan their production lines, and control their inventory. They are also used for shipping or warehousing materials, and goods.
What Are the Symbols Used in Linear Inequalities?
The symbols used in linear inequalities are:
 Not equal (≠)
 Less than (<)
 Greater than (>)
 Less than or equal to (≤)
 Greater than or equal to (≥)
What Are the Two Similarities Between Linear Inequalities and Equations?
The similarities between linear inequalities and equations are:
 Both the mathematical statements relate two expressions to each other.
 Both are solved in the same way.
How to Solve Linear Inequalities in Two Variables?
To solve a system of twovariable linear inequalities, we must have at least two inequalities. We will plot the given inequalities on the graph and check for the common shaded region to determine the solution.
How to Solve Systems of Linear Inequalities by Graphing?
We plot the given inequalities on the graph and check for the common shaded region to determine the solution. If there is no common shaded region, then the solution does not exist. The shaded region can be bounded or unbounded.