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Algebra - Expanding

"Expanding" means removing the ( ) ... but you have to do it the right way!

( ) are called "parentheses" or "brackets"

Whatever is inside the ( ) needs to be treated as a "package".

So when you multiply, you have to multiply by everything inside the "package".

Note that in Algebra putting two things next to each other usually means to multiply.
So 3(a+b) means to multiply 3 by (a+b)

Here is how to do it:

And here is another example involving some numbers. Notice that I use a "·" between the 3 and 6 to mean multiply, so 3·6 = 18:

You will often need to multiply negatives (a negative times a positive gives a negative, but multiplying two negatives gives a positive):

In that case -3 · -5 = +15 (a positive answer), but here is another example where the second part is negative:

So the second term ended up negative because 2x · -a = -2ax, (I also thought it neater to write "-2ax" rather than "-2xa").

That was also interesting because I had to handle x being squared (x2)

Lastly, we have an example with three terms inside:

The same rule applies: multiply by everything inside the ().

And here is a hint: if a multiplication is obvious (like a · 2) do it straight away, but if it needs more thought (like a · -b) leave it for the next line.


Multiply by everything inside the ()

Do it in two stages:

  • Write down the multiplications
  • Then do the multiplications

Hopefully this has shown you how to do simple expansions. More to come later!