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The hardest part of solving a word problem is actually understanding the problem and determining the operation (or

operations) that needs to be performed. Listed below are a few of the most commonly used key words in word

problems and the operations that they signal. Keep in mind that same key words may signal more than one operation.

It is then up to you to picture in your head what is going on and then determine which operation best fits that scenario.

ADDITION

KEY WORDS / PHRASES

increased by

SELECTED EXAMPLES

more than

combined

together

total or total of

sum

There were 8 roses, 12 carnations, and 2 daisies.

How many flowers did they have total?

The sum of their earnings was $28.

added to

last week.

altogether

both

in all

additional

all

If he had ten additional baseball cards, how many

would he have in all?

If you combined all of their earnings how much

would they have?

another

EQUALS

Is, are, was, were, will be, gives, yields

Melissa S. Moreno

Gateways2Learning.com

2004

The hardest part of solving a word problem is actually understanding the problem and determining the operation (or

operations) that needs to be performed. Listed below are a few of the most commonly used key words in word

problems and the operations that they signal. Keep in mind that same key words may signal more than one operation.

It is then up to you to picture in your head what is going on and then determine which operation best fits that scenario.

SUBTRACTION

KEY WORDS / PHRASES

decreased by

minus

less

difference between /

difference of

SELECTED EXAMPLES

last year.

She had ten dollars, minus the amount she spent on

the drink. How much did she have in all?

She had five cards, less the two she gave her

brother. How many did she have in all?

What was the difference between their earnings last

week?

More than

Less than

Fewer than

Jacob?

computer?

Left

remain or remains

Words ending in er

Examples:

higher, longer, faster, heavier, larger, shorter, slower,

farther, etc.

Take away

How many students remain on the bus?

How much heavier is Jacks bag than Marks?

How much farther does Susan need to run?

If Elizabeth takes away 2 of Jaimes baseball cards,

how many will he have?

Only

EQUALS

Is, are, was, were, will be, gives, yields

Melissa S. Moreno

Gateways2Learning.com

2004

The hardest part of solving a word problem is actually understanding the problem and determining the operation (or

operations) that needs to be performed. Listed below are a few of the most commonly used key words in word

problems and the operations that they signal. Keep in mind that same key words may signal more than one operation.

It is then up to you to picture in your head what is going on and then determine which operation best fits that scenario.

MULTIPLICATION

KEY WORDS / PHRASES

of

times

multiplied by

product of

SELECTED EXAMPLES

(multiplication by )

John has 4 times as many jelly beans as Jake.

The population multiplied by 12 over the last year.

The product of four and seven

increased by

percent. (multiplication by 0.10 and then addition)

decreased by

The population of rhinoceros living in the wild decreased by twenty-five percent in the last ten years,

(multiplication by 0.25 and then subtraction)

factor of

every

at this rate

in all

How many plants are there in all?

total

many plants are there total?

each

pair cost?

etc.

EQUALS

Is, are, was, were, will be, gives, yields

Melissa S. Moreno

Gateways2Learning.com

2004

The hardest part of solving a word problem is actually understanding the problem and determining the operation (or

operations) that needs to be performed. Listed below are a few of the most commonly used key words in word

problems and the operations that they signal. Keep in mind that same key words may signal more than one operation.

It is then up to you to picture in your head what is going on and then determine which operation best fits that scenario.

DIVISION

KEY WORDS / PHRASES

SELECTED EXAMPLES

with $6?

each

equal / equally

many items were in each bag?

per

will it take to go 470 miles?

separate

much did each person get?

you buy for $20?

ratio or ratio of

teachers are there for 756 students?

quotient or quotient of

percent (division by 100)

EQUALS

Is, are, was, were, will be, gives, yields

Melissa S. Moreno

Gateways2Learning.com

2004

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