<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Find equivalent fractions
  • Simplify fractions
  • Multiply fractions
  • Divide fractions
  • Simplify expressions written with a fraction bar
  • Translate phrases to expressions with fractions

A more thorough introduction to the topics covered in this section can be found in the Prealgebra chapter, Fractions .

Find equivalent fractions

Fractions are a way to represent parts of a whole. The fraction 1 3 means that one whole has been divided into 3 equal parts and each part is one of the three equal parts. See [link] . The fraction 2 3 represents two of three equal parts. In the fraction 2 3 , the 2 is called the numerator    and the 3 is called the denominator    .

Two circles are shown, each divided into three equal pieces by lines. The left hand circle is labeled “one third” in each section. Each section is shaded. The circle on the right is shaded in two of its three sections.
The circle on the left has been divided into 3 equal parts. Each part is 1 3 of the 3 equal parts. In the circle on the right, 2 3 of the circle is shaded (2 of the 3 equal parts).
Doing the Manipulative Mathematics activity “Model Fractions” will help you develop a better understanding of fractions, their numerators and denominators.


A fraction is written a b , where b 0 and

  • a is the numerator and b is the denominator .

A fraction represents parts of a whole. The denominator b is the number of equal parts the whole has been divided into, and the numerator a indicates how many parts are included.

If a whole pie has been cut into 6 pieces and we eat all 6 pieces, we ate 6 6 pieces, or, in other words, one whole pie.

A circle is shown and is divided into six section. All sections are shaded.

So 6 6 = 1 . This leads us to the property of one that tells us that any number, except zero, divided by itself is 1.

Property of one

a a = 1 ( a 0 )

Any number, except zero, divided by itself is one.

Doing the Manipulative Mathematics activity “Fractions Equivalent to One” will help you develop a better understanding of fractions that are equivalent to one.

If a pie was cut in 6 pieces and we ate all 6, we ate 6 6 pieces, or, in other words, one whole pie. If the pie was cut into 8 pieces and we ate all 8, we ate 8 8 pieces, or one whole pie. We ate the same amount—one whole pie.

The fractions 6 6 and 8 8 have the same value, 1, and so they are called equivalent fractions. Equivalent fractions are fractions that have the same value.

Let’s think of pizzas this time. [link] shows two images: a single pizza on the left, cut into two equal pieces, and a second pizza of the same size, cut into eight pieces on the right. This is a way to show that 1 2 is equivalent to 4 8 . In other words, they are equivalent fractions    .

A circle is shown that is divided into eight equal wedges by lines. The left side of the circle is a pizza with four sections making up the pizza slices. The right side has four shaded sections. Below the diagram is the fraction four eighths.
Since the same amount is of each pizza is shaded, we see that 1 2 is equivalent to 4 8 . They are equivalent fractions.

Equivalent fractions

Equivalent fractions are fractions that have the same value.

How can we use mathematics to change 1 2 into 4 8 ? How could we take a pizza that is cut into 2 pieces and cut it into 8 pieces? We could cut each of the 2 larger pieces into 4 smaller pieces! The whole pizza would then be cut into 8 pieces instead of just 2. Mathematically, what we’ve described could be written like this as 1 · 4 2 · 4 = 4 8 . See [link] .

A circle is shown and is divided in half by a vertical black line. It is further divided into eighths by the addition of dotted red lines.
Cutting each half of the pizza into 4 pieces, gives us pizza cut into 8 pieces: 1 · 4 2 · 4 = 4 8 .

This model leads to the following property:

Questions & Answers

A veterinarian is enclosing a rectangular outdoor running area against his building for the dogs he cares for. He needs to maximize the area using 100 feet of fencing. The quadratic equation A=x(100−2x) gives the area, A , of the dog run for the length, x , of the building that will border the dog run. Find the length of the building that should border the dog run to give the maximum area, and then find the maximum area of the dog run.
Elizabeth Reply
Washing his dad’s car alone, eight year old Levi takes 2.5 hours. If his dad helps him, then it takes 1 hour. How long does it take the Levi’s dad to wash the car by himself?
Gagan Reply
I'm going to guess. Divide Levi's time by 2. Then divide 1 hour by 2. 1.25 + 0.5 = 1.3?
Oops I mean 1.75
I'm guessing this because since I have divide 1 hour by 2, I have to do the same for the 2.5 hours it takes Levi by himself.
Drew burned 1,800 calories Friday playing 1 hour of basketball and canoeing for 2 hours. On Saturday, he spent 2 hours playing basketball and 3 hours canoeing and burned 3,200 calories. How many calories did he burn per hour when playing basketball?
Marie Reply
Brandon has a cup of quarters and dimes with a total value of $3.80. The number of quarters is four less than twice the number of dimes. How many quarters and how many dimes does Brandon have?
Kendra Reply
Tickets to a Broadway show cost $35 for adults and $15 for children. The total receipts for 1650 tickets at one performance were $47,150. How many adult and how many child tickets were sold?
dana Reply
Arnold invested $64,000, some at 5.5% interest and the rest at 9%. How much did he invest at each rate if he received $4,500 in interest in one year? How do I do this
Tanesia Reply
how to square
Fiona Reply
easiest way to find the square root of a large number?
the accompanying figure shows known flow rates of hydrocarbons into and out of a network of pipes at an oil refinery set up a linear system whose solution provides the unknown flow rates (b) solve the system for the unknown flow rates (c) find the flow rates and directions of flow if x4=50and x6=0
Sabee Reply
What is observation
adeyemi Reply
I'm confused by the question. Can you describe or explain the math question it pertains to?
there is no math to it because all you use is your vision or gaze to the sorrounding areas
Teegan likes to play golf. He has budgeted $60 next month for the driving range. It costs him $10.55 for a bucket of balls each time he goes. What is the maximum number of times he can go to the driving range next month?
Sunnyshay Reply
5 times max
Felecia left her home to visit her daughter, driving 45mph. Her husband waited for the dog sitter to arrive and left home 20 minutes, or 1/3 hour later. He drove 55mph to catch up to Felecia. How long before he reaches her?
Sophia Reply
35 min
Carmen wants to tile the floor of his house. He will need 1,000 square feet of tile. He will do most of the floor with a tile that costs $1.50 per square foot, but also wants to use an accent tile that costs $9.00 per square foot. How many square feet of each tile should he plan to use if he wants the overall cost to be $3 per square foot?
Parker Reply
what you wanna get
800 sq. ft @ $1.50 & 200 sq. ft @ $9.00
Geneva treated her parents to dinner at their favorite restaurant. The bill was $74.25. Geneva wants to leave 16 % of the total - bill as a tip. How much should the tip be?
74.25 × .16 then get the total and that will be your tip
$74.25 x 0.16 = $11.88 total bill: $74.25 + $11.88 = $86.13
yes and tip 16% will be $11.88
what is the shorter way to do it
Cesar Reply
Priam has dimes and pennies in a cup holder in his car. The total value of the coins is $4.21. The number of dimes is three less than four times the number of pennies. How many dimes and how many pennies are in the cup?
Alexandra Reply
Practice Key Terms 7

Get the best Elementary algebra course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Elementary algebra. OpenStax CNX. Jan 18, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12116/1.2
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Elementary algebra' conversation and receive update notifications?