Negative Numbers

What Is a Negative Number?

A negative number is a number less than zero.

Dictionary Definition

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a negative number as "less than zero and opposite in sign to a positive."

Examples of Negative Numbers

A negative number is any number less than zero. Negative numbers can be any type of number: whole numbers, fractions, or irrational numbers.

Some of examples of negative numbers are given below:

How Are Negative Numbers Written?

Negative numbers will have a minus sign ('−') in front of them. For example, the negative number negative two can be written as:

Negative Numbers on the Number Line

The image below shows the negative numbers on the number line. Negative numbers are to the left of 0:

Note: 0 is not a negative number. Negative numbers can be fractional, so they can be between the numbers labelled.

Ordering of Negative Numbers

Look at the order of the negative numbers on the number line above.

The order (left to right) goes: −5, −4, −3, −2, −1.

This is the opposite of how we'd write positive numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

This tells us about the ordering of negative numbers.

For a negative number, the bigger the number after the − sign, the smaller the number!

Two positive numbers multiplied together give a positive number:

For a negative number, the bigger the number after the − sign, the smaller the number!

  • −5 is smaller than −4 (as 5 is bigger than 4).

  • −4 is smaller than −3 (as 4 is bigger than 3).

  • −3 is smaller than −2 (as 3 is bigger than 2).

  • −2 is smaller than −1 (as 2 is bigger than 1).

See Also

What is a number line? What is a positive number? Arithmetic with negative numbers