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Lesson 8

Solving Literal Equations


Quick Reminder on Solving
 Remember that when you are solving for one variable you want to
get that thing by itself on one side of the equation.
 What you do to one side of the equation you must do to the other
side.

 When solving for that one variable add and subtract things you want
to move first. Do not try to multiply or divide until you have moved
everything you can with addition and subtraction.

 Then multiply or divide the rest to get your variable alone.

 If you are trying to solve for a; 2a + 5 = 10, you want to move the ( +
5 ) by doing the opposite, which is, subtracting 5 ( - 5 ) to both sides.
2a + 5 – 5 = 10 – 5. Then you will have 2a = 5. Now the 2 being
multiplied to your a is keeping a from being alone. Now you want to
divide by sides by 2 to get a alone. This produces a = 5/2
Literal Equations
 Literal Equations are equations with more
than one variable in them.
 In this lesson you are going to solve for
one of the variable.
 This means you are going to try to get one
variable by itself on one side of the
equation while moving everything else to
the other side.
Example 1
 a + b = c ; solve for a

 We need to get a by itself on the left side so we


need to move b over. (subtract b from both
sides)
 a+b–b=c–b
 a=c–b (since c and b are different we
cannot subtract them, so we just write that as “c
– b”)
 So, a = c - b
Try this
 a + 3b – d = 4; solve for b

 Solution: (remember, get b alone)


 (move stuff with addition/subtraction first then multiply/divide last)
a – a + 3b – d = 4 – a (subtract a from both sides)

 3b – d = 4 – a (add d to both sides)


 3b – d + d = 4 – a + d (since 3, -a and d are different we cannot
combine them)
 3b =4–a+d (what is keeping b from being alone? The 3
being multiplied to it, so we must divide by 3)

3b 4 − a + d so . b=
4−a+d
= 3
3 3
Example 2
 Last lesson we talked about the perimeter
of a rectangle. The formula for that was
P= 2l + 2w

 Using P = 2l + 2w, solve for w

 Trythis problem now, continue to the next


slide when you are done.
Example 2
P = 2l + 2w (we want to solve for w, so we need to get w alone)

P – 2l = 2l – 2l + 2w (first subtract 2l from both sides)

 P – 2l = 2w (now we need to divide by 2 to get w alone)

P − 2l 2 w
=
2 2

 So P − 2l
w=
2
Example 3
Solve for a
Try this one on your own, next slide
for answer.

1
a + b = 2c
2
Example 3
1
a + b = 2c First, subtract b from both sides
2
1
a + b − b = 2c − b
2
1
a = 2c − b Second, multiply both sides by 2
2
1 Remember, when you multiply both sides
2 a = 2( 2c − b ) both 2, everything on both sides gets
2 multiplied by 2. So 2 multiplies 2c-b

a = 4c – 2b
Concepts to remember…
 When you are solving for one variable move
things with addition and subtraction first.
 When you have moved everything you can with
addition and subtraction then move the rest of
the things with multiplication and division. DO
NOT USE MULTIPLICATION OR DIVISION until
you have moved everything you can with
addition and subtraction.