Key Words in Math Word Problems

Key Words in Math Word Problems

math word problems

Helping our kids solve math word problems during homework can be a daunting task for many parents.

In this article we are trying to give you and your child a specific list of key words found in math word problems that will tell you what function is required.  To make math word problems less daunting start asking them story questions when your child is young.  For example:  My 4 year old has to take a snack to share at school and he chooses pretzels.  We decide to give each classmate 5 pretzels.  I ask him, how many pretzels will we need to buy to make sure everyone has 5 pretzels for snack.  We then open the bag of pretzels and count out sets of 5 for every child in his class.  Therefore, we need to pack a total of 45 pretzels for the 9 children in his class.  This story problem can be used in various ways as children get older and the questions get more difficult.  But, having had the practice of talking it through for a long time will make the task of solving math word problems less daunting.

When do you ADD?                                    When do you SUBTRACT?

Sum                                                                        Less Than

Plus                                                                        More Than

Total                                                                      Difference

More                                                                      Decrease

In All                                                                     Change

Altogether                                                            Remain/Left

Combined                                                             Lost

Raise                                                                      Fell/Dropped

Extra                                                                      Further

And                                                                         Reduce




When do you MULTIPLY?                           When do you DIVIDE?

Product                                                                     Divide Evenly

As Much                                                                   Equal Pieces

Of                                                                                Each

By                                                                                Ratio

Twice                                                                         Out of

Times                                                                         Quotient

Multiplied                                                                 Average


Practice, practice, practice!  Practice in conversation, practice on paper.  The best way to remember what the key words are telling you to do in math word problems, is to practice!

About Amee

Mom to two boys and one girl. Blog owner of Answers2Homework and Madame Deals. Connect with me on , twitter or facebook


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