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The Minus Sign

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The minus sign has many meanings and this can lead to confusion and misconceptions.

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Thinking of – as opposite will help to overcome some of the difficulties that pupils have with this multi-meaning symbol.

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Unary operator

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-3 ≑ opposite of 3

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-x ≑ opposite of x

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-(x + 3) ≑ -x -3 ≑ opposite (x + 3)

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-(4 - x) ≑ -4 + x β‰‘ opposite (4 - x)

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-(      )   opposite (        )

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Binary operator/additive opposite

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3 – 2 ≑ 3 + -2

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2 – 3 ≑ 2 + -3

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3 – x ≑ 3 + -x

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x - 3 ≑ x + -3

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Multiplicative opposite

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Inverse (opposite) function

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Reflective opposite

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f(-x) ≑ f(x) reflected in y axis

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-f(x) ≑ f(x) reflected in x axis

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Mixed minus meaning

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Changing minus meaning

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5 – x = 7 binary

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add -5 to both sides

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-x = 2 unary

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