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How to Simplify Negative Exponents with Variables

Distributing with negative exponents means that you'll have fractional answers. A base that has a negative exponent can be changed to a fraction. The base and the exponent become the denominator, but the exponent loses its negative sign in the process. You then cap it all off with a 1 in the numerator.


The following steps show how a negative exponent can lead to a fraction.

  1. Distribute


    Here's what you'll get.

  2. Add the exponents.

  3. The factor of b with the 0 exponent becomes 1.

  4. Change terms with negative exponents to fractions.

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