How to Divide Negative Numbers

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Dividing negative numbers works the same way as dividing positive numbers except that the answers will sometimes be negative. Whether the answer is negative depends on the two numbers involved in the division. If only one of the numbers is negative, the result will also be negative. But if both numbers are negative, the result will be positive.

When One Number Is Negative

It’s easiest to understand how to divide with negative numbers by looking at examples. Suppose you’re asked to divide 8 by -2. Divide 8 by 2 as normal to get 4, and then just insert a negative sign in front, for an answer of -4. The order in which the negative sign appears doesn’t impact the answer. For instance, -6 divided by 3 produces -2, and 6 divided by -3 also produces -2.

When Both Numbers Are Negative

Suppose you divide -6 by -3. Here, you can essentially ignore the negative signs; think of them as canceling each other out. Divide as you normally would to get an answer of 2. You don’t need to write a plus sign in front of the 2 -- it is understood to be positive.

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About the Author

Based in western New York, Amy Harris began writing for Demand Media and Great Lakes Brewing News in 2010. Harris holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Penn State University; she taught high school math for several years and has also worked in the field of instructional design.

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