**The Basic Concepts of Fractions**

When a whole item is divided into equal parts, the relationship of one or more of the parts to the whole is called a **fraction** . When a pie is cut into six equal parts, each part is one-sixth of the whole pie, as shown in Fig. 3-1 .

The symbol for a fraction is two numbers separated by a bar. The fraction five-eighths is written as . The top number of the fraction is called the **numerator** and the bottom number is called the **denominator** .

The denominator tells how many parts the whole is being divided into, and the numerator tells how many parts are being used. The fraction means five equal parts of the whole that has been divided into eight equal parts.

**Math Note:** The denominator of a fraction cannot be zero.

Other fractional parts are shown in Fig. 3-2.

A fraction whose numerator is less than its denominator is called a **proper** fraction. For example, , and are proper fractions. A fraction whose numerator is greater than or equal to its denominator is called an **improper** fraction. For example, , and are improper fractions. A number that consists of a whole number and a fraction is called a **mixed** number. For example, , , and are mixed numbers.

Practice problems for these concepts can be found at: Fractions Basic Concepts Practice Test.

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