The Steps to Solving Word Problems and Valuable Key Words Study Guide (page 3)

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Updated on Oct 3, 2011

Translating from Words to Math Symbols

Translating from words into symbols is very much like converting from one language to another. Look for the important vocabulary and use the numbers mentioned in the question to help you write a number sentence. In most cases, the order in which the values and key words are used in the statement is the same as the order in which they will appear in the numerical sentence.

Translate the following examples from words into mathematical symbols:

  1. Five increased by 10
  2. The product of 6 and 8
  3. The quotient of 70 and 7
  4. The difference of 9 and 4 is the same as 5.
  5. Five is not greater than 7.
  6. The sum of 6 and 3 is not less than 8.
  7. Three less than 11 is equal to 8.


The order of the numbers and symbols does not always stay the same for some key words and phrases. In a few cases, the order is reversed.

For example, 6 less than 10 or 6 subtracted from 10 both translate to 10 – 6.


These examples represent a sample of some of the important vocabulary used in many math word problems. Becoming familiar with these words and phrases is a good way to improve your word-problem solving skills. Work on the following practice problems to see how many of the key words and phrases you have learned.

Find practice problems and solutions for these concepts at The Steps to Solving Word Problems and Valuable Key Words Practice Questions.

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