How to Multiply

By Sara Juveland
Multiplying 3 x 3, or three rows of three balls each, results in the product nine.
Petr Malyshev/iStock/Getty Images

When you break multiplication down into a step-by-step process, you find that it is simply addition repeated over and over. This is true whether you are multiplying single-digit numbers such as 2 x 3, or large, multi-digit numbers such as 2,184 x 320. Learning to multiply involves grouping and adding numbers to get a final product.

Multiply by Repeated Addition

When you multiply single-digit numbers, you add one number over and over as many times as the second number says. For example, in the equation 5 x 3, add five three times: 5 + 5 + 5. Which number you add doesn't matter; you could also add three five times and get the same answer. It also doesn't matter which number comes first in the multiplication equation.

3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 5 + 5 + 5 = 5 x 3 = 3 x 5 = 15

It may be helpful to envision groups of objects. For example, you could imagine that you have five bags of apples and that each bag has three apples in it. The product of multiplication is then the total number of apples you have. This can also help you understand multiplying by zero. If you have zero bags of apples, then it doesn't matter how many apples are in a bag. You don't have any bags, so you have zero apples. Multiplying anything by zero always equals zero.

About the Author

Sara Juveland has been writing articles and textbooks related to education since 2012. Based in Oregon, Juveland has five years of experience living, studying, and working in South Korea, Japan, and China. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese from Pacific University and an MA TESOL from Portland State University.