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Understanding Absolute Value and Negation

Part of the Basic Math & Pre-Algebra Workbook For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The positive value of a number is its absolute value. It tells you the distance of a number from zero on the number line. Placing bars (| |) around a number or expression gives you its absolute value:

  • The absolute value of a positive number is positive. The absolute value of 8 is |8|, which equals 8.

  • The absolute value of a negative number is positive. The absolute value of –8 is |–8|, which equals 8.

Attaching a minus sign (–) negates a number or expression:

  • Negating a positive number makes it negative. To negate the number 3, attach a minus sign to it, changing it to –3.

  • Negating a negative number makes it positive. To negate the number –3, attach a minus sign to it, changing it to –(–3), which equals 3.

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