How to Subtract Fractions From Whole Numbers

By Brenda Sanders
Subtract Mixed Fractions
isolated colorful fraction circles image by davidcrehner from

When subtracting fractions from whole numbers, the fractions are the subtrahends. Remember that the subtrahend is the number being subtracted. In order to subtract a fraction from a whole number, the whole number must be renamed as a mixed number.

Rename the whole number by subtracting one from the whole number and rewriting the whole number as the difference of the whole number minus one and the one as a fraction where the numerator and the denominator are the same. For instance, the whole number, 8 could be rewritten as 7and 5/5 since any number over itself is equivalent to one. You would choose the denominator in the fraction (subtrahend in this case) as the numerator and the denominator when rewriting one. We will use 6-3/4 as our working example. 6 would be renamed as the mixed number, 5 (6-1) and 4/4 (because 4 is the denominator in fraction of our working example). Now, we have 5 4/4-3/4.

Write the whole number from the mixed number (5 4/4) in step one. Continuing with our same working example, 5 4/4-3/4, we see that 5 is the whole number in the mixed number.

Subtract the numerator (3) in the fraction from the numerator (4) in the mixed number: 4-3=1. 1 is your new numerator. So far, we have 5 1/the denominator.

Keep the denominator (4) the same. Now, we have 5 ¼. This is our answer.

About the Author

Brenda Sanders is an educator who has taught in many capacities for over 15 years. She recently completed her doctorate in education from George Fox University. Brenda received her MAT from Pacific University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach. She has also worked as a proofreader, editor and writer.