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Multiplying decimals example

To multiply decimals, we multiply them just like whole numbers. We count the number of digits behind the decimal in both numbers we're multiplying, and make sure our answer has the same number of digits after the decimal. - We can check our answer by thinking about what it means to multiply by 0.5 (or one half). Created by Sal Khan and Monterey Institute for Technology and Education.

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Video transcript

We're asked to multiply 32.12, or 32 and 12 hundredths, times 0.5, or just 5 tenths. Now when you multiply decimals, you multiply them the exact same way you would multiply whole numbers, and then you count the number of spaces behind the decimal you have in your two numbers you're multiplying, and you're going to have that many spaces in your product. Let me show you what I'm talking about. So let's just multiply these two characters. So we have 32.12 times 0.5. And when you write them out, you can just push both of them all the way to the right. You could almost ignore the decimal. Right now, you should write the decimal where they belong, but you can almost pretend that this is 3,212 times 5, and then we'll worry about the decimals in a second. So let's get started. So if we were just multiplying 5 times 3,212, we would say, well, 5 times 2 is 10. Regroup the 1. 5 times 1 is 5, plus 1 is 6. 5 times 2 is 10. Regroup the 1. And then finally, you have 5 times 3 is 15, plus 1 is 16. And then we don't have any other places. If we were just doing this as 05, we wouldn't multiply 0 times this whole thing. We would just get 0 anyway. So just 5 times 3,212 gives us this number. But now we want to care about the decimals. We just have to count the total number of spaces or places we have behind the decimal point in the two numbers we're multiplying. So we have one, two, three spaces, or three numbers, to the right of the decimals in the two numbers that we're multiplying. So we need that many numbers to the right of the decimal in our answer. So we go one, two, three, put the decimal right over there. So 32.12 times 0.5 is 16.060. And this trailing zero right here we can ignore, because it's really not adding any information there. So we could just write this as 16.06. The last thing you want to do is just make sure that this makes sense. You have a number that's almost 32, and we're multiplying it by 0.5. Remember, 0.5 is the same thing as 5 over 10, which is the same thing as 1/2. So we're really multiplying 32.12 times 1/2. We're trying to figure out what one half of 32.12 is. And half of 32 is 16, and half of 0.12 0.06, so this makes complete sense.