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We use numbers to show how many or how much there is of something:

- People have 2 eyes
- There are 5 toes on a foot
- There are 7 days in a week
- There are 12 inches in a yard
- You have 15 pennies in your pocket ... and so on

We use positive numbers to show these things. Up until now we probably haven't said "positive numbers" ; we've just said "numbers".

We show positive numbers with a + sign

+5 means positive five

We usually don't say "positive" even though that is what we mean so...

5 is the same as +5

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- The temperature is 12 degrees colder than yesterday
- I owe my sister 6 dollars
- My friend wants to lose 10 pounds
- The car was driving 5 miles per hour under the speed limit

Negative numbers are less than zero

We need numbers to represent these things too. We use negative numbers.

We show negative numbers with a - sign

-7 means negative seven

Sometimes people say "minus seven" instead of "negative seven" - they both mean the same

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Negative numbers let us show values without using lots of words. Negative numbers are useful for calculations.

Using Words | With Negative Numbers |

A golfer scored 70 on a par 72 course (two under par) | Her score was -2 |

A man owed $500 to the bank | His balance was -$500 |

The quarterback gets sacked and the team loses 15 yards. | The team is -15 yards on the play |

The temperature changed from 10 degrees above zero during the day to 10 below zero at night | There was a -20 degree change in temperature |

The number line below shows how negative numbers go to the left of zero.