How to Turn a Negative Denominator into a Positive

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A fraction represents part of a whole. The bottom number is the denominator, which tells you how many equal parts the whole is divided by. The top number is the numerator, which tells you how many parts of the whole the fraction represents. If a fraction has a negative number as its denominator, it's easy to convert it into a positive.

  1. Write Your Fraction

  2. Write your fraction. For example, 3/(-6).

  3. Multiply the Numerator and Denominator

  4. Multiply both the numerator and the denominator by -1. Work out 3 × -1 = -3 for the numerator. Work out -6 × -1 = 6 for the denominator. The fraction is now (-3)/6.

  5. Reduce Fraction to Its Simplest Form

  6. If possible, reduce the fraction to its simplest form. For example, divide -3 and 6 by 3 to make (-1)/2. The fraction in its simplest form is (-1)/2.


    • Remember, a fraction with a negative sign anywhere is a negative fraction; in other words, it represents a negative quantity. As long as you write only one negative sign, it doesn't matter whether you put it before the denominator, before the numerator or before the entire fraction. For example, these fractions are all equal: (-1)/2, 1/(-2), -(1/2) and -1/2.


About the Author

Claire is a writer and editor with 18 years' experience. She writes about science and health for a range of digital publications, including Reader's Digest, HealthCentral, Vice and Zocdoc.

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