## The Lesson

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).

## What Do Negative Numbers Mean?

It can be hard to think what a negative number means. A positive number can be used to count things: 1 apple, 2 people, ½ a cake... What can negative numbers describe?
• A negative amount of money can represent a debit, a debt or a loss.
• If \$100 leaves your bank account, it might show up as −\$100 on your bank statement.
• A balance of −\$100 would mean you owe the bank \$100.
• A profit of −\$100 would mean the company spent \$100 more than it earned.
• A negative temperature means the temperature is below 0.
• −2°C is 2°C below 0°C
• −10°F is 10°F below 0°F
• Electrons have a negative charge. (Protons have a positive charge).
• A decrease can be thought of as a negative increase. If economic growth is −3%, the economy has shrunk by 3%.

## Different Types of Negative Numbers

Any number less than 0 is a negative number, whether the number is an integer or a fraction.