How to Add Parentheses to Make a Statement True

By Jillian Holden
Learn where to put parentheses in an equation.

Parentheses are used in math equations to prioritize the order in which a problem must be solved. Use the basic principles of math to determine where parentheses should go when completing an equation and learn to apply the basic fundamentals of math to break down a multi-step equation, turning a complicated question into a simple one.

Write equation legibly.

Write out the equation on a piece of paper in large, easy-to-read numbers to prevent unnecessary errors from sloppy handwriting. Our equation will be 1+2x3-4=-3. Make sure all symbols are easy to read, and recheck your equation before beginning to ensure all information has been written correctly.

Remember Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (PEMDAS).

Put parentheses around the first two numbers provided to create an equation; in this case (1+2) x 3-4. Use PEMDAS to determine the order of operations. PEMDAS, or Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, is an acronym signifying the correct order that all math equations should be solved with. P is for parentheses, E is for exponents, M is for multiplication, D is division, A represents addition and S is for subtraction.

Add the numbers in the parentheses together.

Work out the problem in the parentheses, (1+2). Take the answer, 3, and complete the equation, moving from left to right. So, multiply 3 by 3 to get 9. Subtract 4 from 9 to get 5. Parentheses are incorrect around the first two numbers of the equation because your answer is not -3.

Rework your equation.

Rework the problem by putting parentheses around the next two numbers in the equation; 1+ (2x3) - 4. Work it out using the PEMDAS order of operations. You answer will be 3 and still incorrect. Move the parenthesis to go around the last two numbers of the equation; now your answer will be -3.

Check your answer.

Check your answer. Write out your equation, and do it again to ensure all math was done correctly and in the right order.

Tip

Review equations before beginning to get an idea of where your parentheses should go. In this case, your answer was negative. Therefore, the best guess for parenthesis would have been around the last two numbers, because it guaranteed a negative number in the equation.

About the Author

Currently working at the University of Houston, Jillian Holden has been writing since 1999. She is multi-published, with works featured at Associated Content, Examiner, and "North Texas Daily." Holden holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in journalism from the University of North Texas.