# 4 Fractions

Working with fractions is one of the most hated/feared/avoided topics in lower-level mathematics. If you’ve always struggled with fractions, now is the time to face them. Don’t avoid them and hope they’ll go away. (They won’t.) We’ll start with the basics of what fractions are and proceed from there.

# Writing Fractions

A fraction describes equal parts of a whole:

Using official math vocabulary:

Exercises

The month of April had rainy days and days that were not rainy.

1. What fraction of the days were rainy?
2. What fraction of the days were not rainy?

# Simplifying Fractions

Two fractions are equivalent if they represent the same number. (The same portion of a whole.) To build an equivalent fraction, multiply the numerator and denominator by the same number.

Exercises

1. Write as an equivalent fraction with a denominator of .
2. Write as an equivalent fraction with a denominator of .

Many fractions can be simplified, or reduced. Here are four special cases.

Exercises

Simplify each fraction, if possible.

A fraction is completely reduced, or in simplest form, or in lowest terms, when the numerator and denominator have no common factors other than . To reduce a fraction, divide the numerator and denominator by the same number.

Exercises

Reduce each fraction to simplest form.

# Multiplying Fractions

To multiply fractions, multiply the numerators and multiply the denominators straight across. If possible, simplify your answer.

Exercises

Multiply each pair of numbers. Be sure that each answer is in simplest form.

To find a fraction of a number, multiply.

Exercises

1. To pass his workplace training, Nathan must correctly answer at least of questions. How many questions must he answer correctly to pass the training?

# Dividing Fractions

To divide by a fraction, multiply by the reciprocal of the second number. (Flip the second fraction upside-down.)

Exercises

Divide. Be sure that each answer is in simplest form.

1. Suppose you need to measure cups of flour, but the only scoop you can find is cup. How many scoops of flour will you need?

# Comparing Fractions

If two fractions have the same denominator, we can simply compare their numerators.

If two fractions have different denominators, we can rewrite them with a common denominator and then compare their numerators.

Exercises

1. Banana bread recipe A requires cup of sugar, whereas banana bread recipe B requires cup of sugar. Which recipe requires more sugar?

To add or subtract two fractions with the same denominator, add or subtract the numerators and keep the common denominator.

Exercises

1. Jack ate of a pizza. Mack ate of the pizza. What fraction of the pizza did they eat together?
2. Tracy ate of a pizza. Stacy ate of the pizza. How much more of the pizza did Tracy eat?

To add or subtract two fractions with different denominators, first write them with a common denominator. Then add or subtract them.

Exercises

A -inch thick sheet of plywood is going to be laid onto a -inch thick sheet of plywood.

1. What is the combined thickness of the two sheets?
2. What is the difference in thickness of the two sheets of plywood?

Jacqueline budgets of her monthly income for food and of her monthly income for rent.

1. What fraction of her monthly income does she budget for these two expenses combined?
2. What fraction more of her monthly income does she budget for her rent than for her food?

# Fractions and Decimals

To write a fraction as a decimal, divide the numerator by the denominator.

A decimal that ends (eventually has a remainder of ) is called a terminating decimal. Fun fact: If the denominator of a fraction has no prime factors other than ‘s and ‘s, the decimal will terminate. Also, the fraction can be built up to have a denominator of , or , or

Exercises

Write each fraction as a decimal.

A decimal that continues a pattern of digits is called a repeating decimal. We can represent the repeating digits by using either an overbar or ellipsis (three dots)…

Exercises

Write each fraction as a decimal.

# Improper Fractions & Mixed Numbers

A fraction which has a larger numerator than denominator is called an improper fraction. Because an improper fraction is larger than , it can also be written as a mixed number, with a whole number followed by a fractional part.

Keep in mind that a mixed number represents an addition, not a multiplication. For example, means , not .

To write an improper fraction as a mixed number:

1. Divide the numerator by the denominator to get the whole number part.
2. The remainder after dividing is the new numerator.
3. Keep the same denominator.

Exercises

Rewrite each improper fraction as a mixed number.

To write a mixed number as an improper fraction:

1. Multiply the whole number part by the denominator.
2. Add this result to the original numerator to get the new numerator.
3. Keep the same denominator.

Exercises

Rewrite each mixed number as an improper fraction.

Adding or subtracting mixed numbers can be fairly simple or more complicated, depending on the numbers. One approach is to work with the fractional parts separately from the whole numbers. For example, can be rewritten as and rearranged to . Then and, with a little more work, , so the result is .

Exercises

Multiplying or dividing mixed numbers is more complicated than it may appear. Change any mixed numbers into improper fractions before doing the calculation, then change the answer back to a mixed number if possible.

Exercises

1. Multiply:
2. cups of water will be divided equally into jars. How much water will go into each jar?