How to Add a Whole Number to a Fraction

By Chance E. Gartneer; Updated April 24, 2017
Borrow 1 from the whole number in a mixed number.

The set of whole numbers comprises all the integers equal to or greater than zero. Whole numbers start with 0 and continue in an infinite series, the next number in the series one more than the preceding number. The set of whole numbers includes only integers and has no fractions or decimals. All whole numbers are nonnegative, and, with the exception of zero, they are all positive numbers. When you add a whole number to a fraction, the sum of this addition is usually written in the form of a mixed number. How you add a whole number to a fraction depends on the type of fraction.

Write the fraction to the right of the whole number being added to it. For example, if the fraction is 1/2 and the whole number is 4, writing the fraction to the right of the whole number gives 4 1/2. The answer to 1/2 plus 4 is 4 1/2.

Convert improper fractions to mixed numbers first, and then add the whole number to the whole number part of the mixed number. An improper fraction is any fraction with a numerator -- the number on top -- that's greater than the denominator -- the one on the bottom.

For example, suppose the the whole number is 3 and the improper fraction you want to add it to is 5/4. To convert the improper fraction 5/4 to a mixed number, you would write it as a whole number and a fraction. 5/4 = 4/4 + 1/4 = 1 1/4.

The whole number 1 plus the whole number 3 equals the whole number 4. Finally, add it to the fraction remaining, 1/4. Write it to the right of this whole number sum: 4 1/4.

Rewrite the equation for a whole number added to a negative fraction. Change it to a fraction subtracted from the whole number, and solve it. For example, to add 2 to -1/2, rewrite the expression as 2 - 1/2. The difference of 2 - 1/2 is 1 1/2.

About the Author

Chance E. Gartneer began writing professionally in 2008 working in conjunction with FEMA. He has the unofficial record for the most undergraduate hours at the University of Texas at Austin. When not working on his children's book masterpiece, he writes educational pieces focusing on early mathematics and ESL topics.