When adding and subtracting negative numbers, the sign of the second number needs to be taken into account.

Turn the second number into a positive number. But if it was originally negative, then the sign of the **operation** also needs to be changed.

An easy way to remember what happens is to look at the sign of the operation and the sign of the second number. If they are both the same (plus-plus or minus-minus) then make the operation an addition. Otherwise it is a subtraction.

So 5 + -3 becomes 5 - 3 (signs are different). And 6 - -8 becomes 6 + 8 (signs are the same).

Calculate +5 - -3.

Change -3 to +3.

The sign of the second number has changed: change the subtraction to an addition.

Then 5 + 3 = 8.

Answer: 8

The temperature in Bristol is -4ºC. It increases during the day by 7ºC. What is the new temperature?

-4 + +7 is -4 + 7.

Answer: +3ºC

See also Adding In Columns and Subtracting In Columns

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