What Is a Fraction?

What Is a Fraction?

A fraction is a part of a whole number.

Dictionary Definition

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a fraction as "a numerical quantity that is not a whole number (e.g. 1/2, 0.5)."

A Real Example of a Fraction

A fraction is usually written as one number over another number.

This is a quarter. It is written as 1 over 4. It represents 1 part in 4.

A Real Example of What a Fraction Means

Imagine we wanted to find ¼ of a cake.


What does ¼ of a cake look like?

  • The bottom number of our fraction (called the denominator) is 4. It tells us to divide the cake into 4 equal parts.

  • The top number of our fraction (called the numerator) is 1. It tells us how many of these equal parts we have.

How to Visualize Fractions

Thinking of slices of a cake is a useful way of visualizing fractions.

  • The top number (the numerator) tells you have many slices you have.

  • The bottom number (the denominator) tells you how many equal slices the cake is cut into.


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Types of Fractions

There are three different types of fractions.

Type of Fraction Example Explanation
Proper fraction The numerator is less than the demoninator
Improper fraction The numerator is greater or equal to the demoninator
Mixed fraction A whole number and a fraction


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See Also

What is a numerator? What is a denominator? What is a proper fraction? What is an improper fraction? What is a mixed fraction? Adding fractions Subtracting fractions Multiplying fractions Dividing fractions Simplifying fractions Converting fractions