Main content

### Course: Arithmetic (all content) > Unit 5

Lesson 27: Dividing fractions by fractions# Understanding division of fractions

Dividing fractions can be understood using number lines and jumps. To divide a fraction like 8/3 by another fraction like 1/3, count the jumps of 1/3 needed to reach 8/3. Alternatively, multiply 8/3 by the reciprocal of the divisor (3/1) to get the same result. This concept applies to other fractions, such as dividing 8/3 by 2/3. Created by Sal Khan.

## Want to join the conversation?

- OK, here we go with my question. I easily understand how to multiply and divide fractions. I have watched these videos over and over and still do not understand conceptually WHY I flip the reciprocal and multiply across to get the answer. Is there another source to read or watch to explain why these steps work and what is actually happening?(41 votes)
- You have a very good question.
**Think about it this way**:**a fraction itself is a division problem, the numerator divided by the denominator**. When you multiply by a value*greater than 1*, the original amount becomes greater; when you multiply by a value*less than 1*, the original value becomes smaller.

You want to find a way to "*move the dividend into the denominator of the divisor*". The easiest way to do this is to change the dividend into its inverse. For whole numbers, the value moves to the denominator, and the "invisible 1" (since anything divided by 1 is itself) goes to the*numerator*. To find the numerator you multiply the numerators together; to find the denominator you multiply the denominators together.

The same works for values which are not whole numbers.

Here are two examples:**10**÷(**2/5**). The 2 is a whole number, which is already being divided by 5. Division by a number greater than 1 means the value is being "reduced" (and 10÷2 means the 10 is getting reduced to one-half). But at the same time, the "**reduction power of the 2**" is also being reduced, reduced to*one-fifth*. So in order to compensate for that, you will need to multiply the 10 by a 5 as well. In the end, there will be a 5 in the numerator and a 2 in denominator, and the quotient of the problem is 25.

When you divide by a fraction greater than 1, the original value is still reduced. Let's say you have**60**÷(**5/4**). Without the "1/4", the 60 would be divided by a full 5; but the "1/4" reduces the "**reduction power**", and the quotient will be 48 in the end.

Hope this helps in better understanding and clearing things up.

Also, here is a shortcut on fractions:

When a value within a fraction is a fraction, bring the denominator to the other side and multiply it by the value on the other side

(a/b)/c = a/(b x c)

a/(b/c) = (a x c)/b

(a/b)/(c/d) = (a x d)/(b x c)(61 votes)

- I noticed in the case of 8/3 / 1/3 (best I can do to type a fraction division math problem on here, but basically eight thirds (8/3) divided by one third (1/3)), and likewise 8/3 / 2/3, that the denominators were both 3 in both cases, and the answer was in the same as the first numerator (8 in both cases) divided by the second numerator (1 in the first case, 2 in the second case), but a whole number and not a fraction. Is this a common pattern when dividing fractions with common denominators or are there exceptions, and would finding common denominators and dividing the numerators be one method of dividing fractions, or would it just be extra work compared to inverting and multiplying? Might be something to play around with.(28 votes)
- Yes the pattern you noticed will always work, but you are wise to suspect atet he most efficient way to divide fractions is usually to simply multiply by the reciprocal. I always remind my students to simplify the product before they multiply numerators and denominators as they are already partially factored which makes finding common factors to eliminate easier.(17 votes)

- I really don't understand why dividing two fractions is the same thing as multiplying by reciprocal. Please explain further(11 votes)
- It's still hard for me too, but this is how I'm understanding things:

A whole doesn't have to mean the number 1.

When you are dividing by a fraction, that fraction is now your 'whole'.

When you divide by 1/3, you are turning 1 original ‘whole’ into 3 different ‘wholes’.

|— — —|

So you are essentially multiplying the original number by 3.

3/1 is the reciprocal of 1/3, and the math just works out that any fraction can be flipped like this to get the correct answer.

Another way of looking at things would be to just go through the division.

What is 8/3 ÷ 1/3?

It becomes 8 ÷ 1 over 3 ÷ 3

Or 8/1.

For 8/3 ÷ 2/3

It becomes 8 ÷ 2 over 3 ÷ 3, or (8 ÷ 2 = 4) over (3 ÷ 3 = 1)

or 4/1 = 4.

But especially with bigger or more complex numbers multiplying by reciprocals will be easier than figuring out division, so they want us to understand this math concept before moving onward.(15 votes)

- My teacher taught me that dividing fractions can be fun when you flip and multiply the second one. Basically if you have 2/3 dived by 5/7, you flip 5/7 to make it 7/5, then change the whole problem to multiplication, and multiply regularly, making it 2/3 x 7/5= 14/15(14 votes)
- How can I divide something like, 22 5/9 by 1/2?(5 votes)
- To divide a mixed number by a fraction, you will have to convert it into an improper fraction. This means 22 5/9 would turn into 203/9.

Dividing 203/9 by 1/2, is the same as multiplying 203/9 by 2/1.

203/9 x 2/1 is 406/9. This can be converted back into a mixed number: 45 1/9

Hope this helped.(15 votes)

- i sped up the video(10 votes)
- thats so real(3 votes)

- Hello people. I have some clarity for people who might be having trouble understanding this. It is called KCF (keep, change, flip). This is used to divide fractions. Here is an example: 1/4 ÷ 2/5 → 1/4 × 5/2. This is done by keeping the first fraction, changing the division symbol to multiplication, and flipping the last fraction. This will get you the same answer and is a way easier way to divide fractions.(7 votes)
- Its kinda confusing but im getting the hang of it thanks for the video!(7 votes)
- ok so you saying that 8/3 = something(4 votes)
- Yeah, you would need to divide the top from the bottom.(7 votes)

- This doesn't make sense!(7 votes)

## Video transcript

Let's think about what
it means to take 8/3 and divide it by 1/3. So let me draw a
number line here. So there is my number line. This is 0. This is 1. And this is 2. Maybe this is 3 right over here. And let me plot 8/3. So to do that, I just need
to break up each whole into thirds. So let's see. That's 1/3, 2/3, 3/3,
4/3, 5/3, 6/3, 7/3, 8/3. So right over here. And then of course,
9/3 would get us to 3. So this right over here is 8/3. Now, one way to think
about 8/3 divided by 3 is what if we take this length. And we say, how
many jumps would it take to get there, if we're
doing it in jumps of 1/3? Or essentially, we're
breaking this up. If we were to break up
8/3 into sections of 1/3, how many sections would I have,
or how many jumps would I have? Well, let's think about that. If we're trying to
take jumps of 1/3, we're going to have to go 1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 jumps. So we could view
this as-- let me do this in a different color. I'll do it in this orange. So we took these 8
jumps right over here. So we could view 8/3 divided
by 1/3 as being equal to 8. Now, why does this
actually make sense? Well, when you're dividing
things into thirds, for every whole, you're
now going to have 3 jumps. So whatever value
you're trying to get to, you're going to have that
number times 3 jumps. So another way of thinking about
it is that 8/3 divided by 1/3 is the same thing
as 8/3 times 3. And we could either
write it like this. We could write
times 3 like that. Or, if we want to
write 3 as a fraction, we know that 3 is the
same thing as 3/1. And we already know how
to multiply fractions. Multiply the numerators. 8 times 3. So you have 8-- let me
do that that same color. You have 8 times 3 in the
numerator now, 8 times 3. And then you have 3 times
1 in the denominator. Which would give you 24/3, which
is the same thing as 24 divided by 3, which once
again is equal to 8. Now let's see if this
still makes sense. Instead of dividing by 1/3,
if we were to divide by 2/3. So let's think about what
8/3 divided by 2/3 is. Well, once again, this is
like asking the question, if we wanted to break up
this section from 0 to 8/3 into sections of
2/3, or jumps of 2/3, how many sections, or how many
jumps, would I have to make? Well, think about it. 1 jump-- we'll do this
in a different color. We could make 1 jump. No, that's the same
color as my 8/3. We could do 1 jump. My computer is doing
something strange. We could do 1 jump, 2
jumps, 3 jumps, and 4 jumps. So we see 8/3 divided
by 2/3 is equal to 4. Now, does this make sense in
this world right over here? Well, if we take 8/3 and we
do the same thing, saying hey, look, dividing by a
fraction is the same thing as multiplying by a reciprocal. Well, let's multiply by 3/2. Let's multiply by the
reciprocal of 2/3. So we swap the numerator
and the denominator. So we multiply it times 3/2. And then what do we get? In the numerator, once again,
we get 8 times 3, which is 24. And in the denominator, we
get 3 times 2, which is 6. So now we get 24 divided
by 6 is equal to 4. Now, does it make sense
that we got half the answer? If you think about the
difference between what we did here and
what we did here, these are almost the same,
except here we really just didn't divide. Or you could say you divided by
1, while here you divided by 2. Well, does that make sense? Well, sure. Because here you
jumped twice as far. So you had to take half
the number of steps. And so in the first
example, you saw why it makes sense
to multiply by 3. When you divide by a
fraction, for every whole, you're making 3 jumps. So that's why when you
divide by this fraction, or whatever is in
the denominator, you multiply by it. And now when the numerator
is greater than 1, every jump you're
going twice as far as you did in this first
one right over here. And so you would have to
do half as many jumps. Hopefully that makes sense. It's easy to think
about just mechanically how to divide fractions. Taking 8/3 divided by 1/3 is
the same thing as 8/3 times 3/1. Or 8/3 divided by 2/3 is the
same thing as 8/3 times 3/2. But hopefully this video
gives you a little bit more of an intuition of
why this is the case.