What Are Subtraction Sentences?

By Dawn Colclasure
Subtraction sentences show the math problem the student must figure out.

A subtraction sentence is also called a numerical sentence. This sentence shows the process of how the student reaches a solution for the math problem. Subtraction sentences normally appear after a brief word problem. The following is an example of a word problem: “There are five birds on the branch. Two birds fly away. How many birds are left?” The student uses the subtraction sentence to work out his answer.

The Minuend

The beginning of a subtraction sentence is the first number in the word problem. This number is called the minuend. The minuend is the number the student must subtract the next number from.

The Subtraction Symbol

The next part of a subtraction sentence is the subtraction symbol. This symbol is important because it tells the reader what kind of math is being worked out here. The subtraction symbol is often called the minus sign.

The Subtrahend

The second number in a subtraction sentence is called the subtrahend. The subtrahend is the amount to subtract from the minuend. This number immediately follows the subtraction symbol in a subtraction sentence.

The Equal Symbol

The next part of a subtraction sentence is the equal symbol. This symbol is also called the “equals bar.” This symbol shows what the answer would be when you solve the subtraction problem.

The Difference

The final number that appears at the end of a subtraction sentence is the answer to the problem. This number is called the difference. This number tells the reader how much is left over after the subtrahend is subtracted from the minuend.

About the Author

Dawn Colclasure has written for the newspaper, "SIGNews," since 2003 and has been published in several different newspapers and magazines. Dawn also writes books on writing and the paranormal. She lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon.