What is Subtraction?

What is Subtraction?

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Taking away from something is subtraction. Playing with colourful counters, learn how you can subtract numbers in simple steps in this video.

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Concept Video on Subtraction - Cuemath Way

Do you know how to subtract numbers?

If you don't, you can watch this video to learn how to subtract numbers the Cuemath way.

In this Cuemath video, you will learn how to do subtraction by building number combinations using Base Ten Blocks.


Introduction to Subtraction

When you have a group of things and you subtract few things from it, the group becomes smaller.

For example, you bought \(9\) cupcakes for your birthday party.

Your friends ate \(7\) cupcakes.

Explaining the meaning of subtraction using the cupcake example

Now you are left with \(2\) cupcakes. 

This can be written as a mathematical equation.

Mathematical equation for subtraction problem - The parts of subtraction are minuend, subtrahend, and difference. 

This can be read as "nine minus seven equals two".

There are 3 parts to a subtraction problem:

  1. Minuend
  2. Subtrahend
  3. Difference.

What is Subtraction?

Subtraction: Definition

In mathematics, subtraction means to take away some things from a group.

In other words, subtraction is the process of removing things from a group.

We use minus sign (-) as the subtraction symbol when one number is subtracted from another number.

Terms used in daily life to describe the subtraction problem

The terms such as "Minus", "Less", "Difference", "Decrease", "Take Away" and "Deduct" indicates that you need to subtract one number from another.


Subtraction on Number Line

A number line is a visual aid for you to understand subtraction because it allows you to jump backward and forward on each number.

To understand how this works, let's explore subtraction using a number line.

Let's subtract \(4\) from \(9\)

We'll start by marking the number \(9\) on the number line.

When we subtract using a number line, we count by moving one number at a time toward the left.

Since we are subtracting \(4\) from \(9\), we will move 4 times to the left.

Representing a subtraction problem on a number line

The number on which you land after 4 jumps is the answer. Thus,

\(9-4=5\)

Always remember that when you jump backward from any number, subtraction occurs.

 
important notes to remember
Important Notes
  1. Any subtraction problem can be transformed to an addition problem and vice-versa.
  2. Subtracting 0 from any number gives the number itself as the difference.
  3. When 1 is subtracted from any number, the difference equals the predecessor of the number.

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Subtraction: Examples

Example 1

 

 

In an International cricket match, Sri Lanka scored \(236\) runs and India scored \(126\) runs.

Subtraction Example: Sri Lanka made 236 runs and India made 126 runs in an international cricket match.

How many more runs must India score to be equal to the number of runs scored by Sri Lanka?

Solution:

Runs scored by Sri Lanka = \(236\)

Runs scored by India = \(126\)

Let's first subtract by taking away the ones from ones, then tens from tens and then finally hundreds from hundreds.

Understand subtraction using tokens of place values

Thus, we are left with 0 ones, 1 tens and 1 hundreds.

Mathematically, this can be written as:

Write the subtraction problem to show how many runs are needed.

\(\therefore\) India must score \(110\) runs to be equal to Sri Lanka's runs
Example 2

 

 

Sally's mother asked her to go to the market to buy some things. She gave her \(\text{Rs. }1265\)

Sally bought 1 kg of ghee for \(\text{Rs. }146\), one pack of detergent for \(\text{Rs. }320\), 1 litre of milk for \(\text{Rs. }120\) and one pack of butter for \(\text{Rs. }95\)

Subtraction Example: Sally purchased some things and wants to know the correct balance she gets after paying.

The shopkeeper gave her back \(\text{Rs. }584\)

Did the shopkeeper give her the right amount?

Solution:

Let's find the total amount of money spent by Sally.

Money spent on ghee = \(\text{Rs. }146\)

Money spent on detergent = \(\text{Rs. }320\)

Money spent on milk = \(\text{Rs. }120\)

Money spent on butter = \(\text{Rs. }95\)

Total money spent by Sally:

\(\begin{align} &=\! \text{Rs. }146 \!+\! \text{Rs. }320 \!+\! \text{Rs. }120 \!+\! \text{Rs. }95\\ &=\! \text{Rs. }681\end{align}\)

Now, let's subtract 681 from 1265 to find the money given by the shopkeeper to Sally.

The problem can be written as:

Write the subtraction problem using place values.

Write the subtraction problem using place values tokens

Remember that we borrow when we don't have enough.

Take away 1 from 5 ones.

We are now left with 4 ones.

Understanding subtraction problem using unit tokens

We cannot take away 8 tens from 6 tens.

Hence, we borrow 1 hundreds which is equal to 10 tens.

Understanding subtraction problem using tokens

Now we have 16 tens out of which we take away 8 tens.

We are left with 8 tens.

Understanding subtraction problem using tens tokens

Finally, we are left with 1 hundreds.

Similarly, we cannot take 6 hundreds from 1 hundreds.

Hence, we borrow 1 thousands which is equal to 10 hundreds.

Taking away 6 hundreds from 11 hundreds gives us 5 hundreds.

Understanding subtraction problem using hundreds tokens

Understanding subtraction problem using tokens

The shopkeeper must return \(\text{Rs. } 584\) to Sally.

\(\therefore\) The shopkeeper gave Sally the right amount.

Finding a difference between two large numbers can be a challenge.

Use this strategy called removal to make it slighty easier to subtract two numbers.

 
tips and tricks
Tips and Tricks
1. Partition the number we want to remove (subtrahend). To do that, write the number in its expanded form. For example, we need to find 73 - 22
  Easy trick to make subtraction problem simple using expanded forms
  This will help you split a big chunk of a number into manageable pieces. We will remove each chunk one by one.
  Easy trick to make subtraction problem simple using expanded forms
  Thus, the answer is 51

Subtraction Calculator

We hope the above trick was helpful to you.

Try using the simulation below to subtract two-digit numbers.

 
Thinking out of the box
Think Tank
1. Edwin noted down the reading of the electricity meter at his house. 
 

Subtraction example - Edwin's electricity readings of last month were 256 and the readings of this month are 623. How much electricity did he use in one month?

  The readings of last month were 256 and the readings of this month are 623. How much electricity did he use in one month?

 

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Practice Questions

Here are few activities for you to practice.

Select/Type your answer and click the "Check Answer" button to see the result.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Maths Olympiad Sample Papers

IMO (International Maths Olympiad) is a competitive exam in Mathematics conducted annually for school students. It encourages children to develop their math solving skills from a competition perspective.

You can download the FREE grade-wise sample papers from below:

To know more about the Maths Olympiad you can click here


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is subtraction?

Subtraction is the process of finding the difference between two numbers or quantities.

Minus sign is the subtraction symbol we use while representing in the mathematical form.

2. What is the use of subtraction?

Subtraction is used when you take away or deduct something from a group of things.

There are different situations where we use subtraction like when you reduce something, find a part from a whole group, or find the difference between two quantities.

3. How do you do simple subtraction?

Follow the steps shown below to do simple subtraction.

  1. Write the bigger number above the smaller number and underline the smaller number.
  2. Start from the rightmost digit and compare the lower and upper digits.
  3. If the lower digit is smaller than the upper digit, just take away the value of lower digit from the value of upper digit and write the answer beneath the underline in that column.
  4. If the lower digit is greater than the upper digit, borrow 1 from the next column on the left. Now, you can take away the value of the lower digit from the value of the upper digit and write the answer beneath the underline in that column.
  5. Repeat these steps until you run out of digits.

4. How do you borrow using subtraction?

Follow these steps to borrow using subtraction.

  1. Cross out the number you are borrowing from and subtract 1 from it. 
  2. Write the number 10 above the column where you are working in and subtract the required digit from it.
 
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