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Negative Numbers

Negative Numbers

Numbers greater than zero are normally shown without a sign. The number written as 5 has the same value as the number written as +5.

A negative number is a number that is less than zero, and is shown with a minus sign. A number line, showing the position of numbers from -10 to +10, is shown below:

Number line -10 to +10

The numbers on the left hand end of the scale are the smaller numbers. Working from left to right, numbers increase in value. So, -5 is larger than -8 because -5 is further to the right on the number line. Similarly, 2 is larger than -4.int.

Example 1

Which is the larger number, -6 or -2?

Using the number line, -2 is further to the right.

Answer: -2

Example 2

Three cities recorded their average temperatures over winter.  In London, it was 3ºC, in Edinburgh it was -2ºC, and in Leeds it was -5ºC.  Which city had the lowest average temperature?

Of all the numbers, -5 is the furthest to the left, and therefore has the lowest value.

Answer: Leeds