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Numerator (Mathematics Glossary)

What Is the Numerator?

The numerator is the number written above the line of a fraction.



The numerator of this fraction is 1.

(The number below the line is called the denominator. It is 4 in the fraction above.)

Dictionary Definition

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the numerator as "the number written above the line in a vulgar fraction, showing how many of the parts indicated by the denominator are taken."

Examples of Numerators

The numerator of the fraction 2/3 (two-thirds) is 2. The numerator of the fraction 5/7 (five-sevenths) is 5

What Does the Numerator Mean?

A fraction is a part of a whole number.

The numerator tells you how many parts of the whole number there are.

(The denominator tells you how many equal parts the whole is divided into.)

Visualizing the Numerator

Thinking of slices of a cake is a useful way of visualizing the numerator. A fraction is a part of a whole number. So it can be visualized as a number of slices of cake, which are parts of the whole cake.


The numerator tells you have many slices you have:
  • A numerator of 1 represents 1 slice of cake.


  • A numerator of 2 represents 2 slices of cake.


  • A numerator of 3 represents 3 slices of cake.


  • A numerator of 4 represents 4 slices of cake.

(The denominator tells you how many slices there are in the whole cake. There are 4 slices in the cake above, so the denominators of all the fractions shown is 4.)

Interactive Test
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Here's a second test on the numerator.
Here's a third test on the numerator.
Note

What Is a Fraction?

A fraction is a part of a whole number.

Fractions consist of a numerator and a denominator.

There are three different types of fractions:

Fractions with Larger Numerators Are Larger

If fractions have the same denominator, having a larger numerator makes the fraction larger.



If you visualize the numerator as the number of slices of cake, then having a larger numerator means having more slices.



(If the denominator is the same, then the number of slices in a whole cake stays the same).