Algebraic Vocabulary

To better understand the topic of algebra, it’s essential to become familiar with a few key terms:

  • Constant – A value or number that never changes in an equation, e.g., 4 is a constant because it is a value that doesn’t change.
  • Equation – A combination of terms or values that uses an equal sign to show a balanced relationship, e.g., 69ab=69 is an equation.
  • Index– A small number written on the upper right-hand side of a number or variable, often referred to as an exponent or power. It can also be written as {a}^{b}, where b is the exponent, e.g., in the term 5^2, 2 is the exponent.
  • Expression – A combination of values and operations that can be used to show relationships and comparisons between elements, e.g., 80ef+4g is an expression. Remember, expressions do not have an equal sign.
  • Factor – To consolidate two or more terms into a single term to perform further operations, e.g., 20a+6b+50c=2(10a+3b+25c).
  • Operation – An action performed on one or two numbers to produce a resulting number, e.g., multiplication, addition, subtraction, division, square root, and more.
  • Simplify – To combine all that can be combined by collecting like-terms, reducing the equation to its simplest form, e.g., 11a+3a+6a+3b=20a+3b.
  • Solve – To work out or find the answer to a problem or equation.
  • Term – A combination of one or more factors, which can include numbers and/or variables, e.g., 5tu is a term, and the expression 5tu+9 has 2 terms.
  • Variable – Often represented by letters that stand for unknown numbers, e.g., in the term 24t, t is the variable, as it is a value that does not have a fixed value.