# How to Divide Letters in Algebra

## Dividing Letters in Algebra

Letters can be dividedmultiplied with numbers, other letters and the same letter.

• A letter can be divided by a number. Write the letter as the numerator of a fraction, and the number as the denominator.

• A letter can be divided by a different letter. Write the letter you are dividing by (b) under the letter you are dividing (a).

## Dividing Letters to Make Terms

A term is a collection of letters and numbers multiplied and/or divided together.

In the examples above, the letter a has been divided by a number and the letter b to make terms.

These divisions can be combined to make a more complicated term: ## Dividing a Letter with the Same Letter

Dividing a letter with itself equals 1: Letters sometimes have exponents, which tell you how many times the letter is multiplied by itself. For example, a1 = a, a2 = a × a and a3 = a × a × a.

When a letter with an exponent is divided by that same letter, we must subtract the exponents.

• For example, imagine we wanted to divide a2 ÷ a. (Don't forget: if a letter does not have an exponent, it has an implicit exponent of 1): We can see why this works if we write out the term in full, rather than using exponent notation, remembering that a2 = a × a. Each a on the denominator cancels out an a on the numerator, leaving only one a: • Imagine we wanted to divide a4 ÷ a2: We can see why this works if we write out the term in full, remembering that
a4 = a × a × a × a and that a2 = a × a. Each a on the denominator cancels out an a on the numerator, leaving two a's: 