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Add and subtract fractions: FAQ

Frequently asked questions about adding and subtracting fractions.

How do we estimate fractions to add or subtract them?

One way to estimate fractions is to round them to the nearest half or whole number. For example, 23 rounds to 12, and 78 rounds to 1.
Try it yourself with this exercise:

How do you add and subtraction fractions visually?

To add or subtract fractions, they need to have the same denominator. We can use fraction bars to visually compare the fractions so we can add and subtract.
Try it yourself with this exercise:

What's the difference between adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators and adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators?

When the denominators are the same, we can add or subtract the numerators directly. When the denominators are different, we need to find a common denominator first.
Try it yourself with these exercises:

How do we find common denominators?

There are a few different ways to find common denominators. One way is to use the least common multiple (LCM) of the two denominators. Another way is to just multiply the two denominators together.
Try it yourself with these exercises:

What are mixed numbers and how do we add and subtract them?

Mixed numbers are numbers that contain both a whole number and a fraction. For example, 212 is a mixed number. To add and subtract them, we have to find a common denominator. Then, we rewrite the mixed numbers as improper fractions with that denominator. Lastly, we add or subtract the two improper fractions together and simplify the result if needed.
Try it yourself with these exercises:

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