Everyday maths 2
Everyday maths 2

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4.3 Fractions of amounts

Fractions of amounts can be found by using your division and multiplication skills. To work out a fraction of any amount you first divide your amount by the number on the bottom of the fraction – the denominator. This gives you 1 part.

You then multiply that answer by the number on the top of the fraction – the numerator.

It is worth noting here that if the number on the top of the fraction is 1, multiplying the answer will not change it so there is no need for this step. Take a look at the examples below.

Example: Divide by the denominator


To find one divided by five of 90 we do 90 ÷ 5 = 18.

Since the number on the top of our fraction is 1, we do not need to multiply 18 by 1 as it will not change the answer.

So one divided by five of 90 = 18.

Example: Multiply by the numerator


To find four divided by seven of 42 we do 42 ÷ 7 = 6.

This means that one divided by seven of 42 = 6.

Since you want four divided by seven of 42, we then do 6 × 4 = 24.

So four divided by seven of 42 = 24.

Let’s go back to the jacket that used to cost £80 but is now in the sale with 2/5 off. How do you find out how much it costs? Firstly, you need to find 2/5 of 80. To calculate this you do:

  • £80 ÷ 5 = £16 and then £16 × 2 = £32

This means that you save £32 on the price of the jacket. To find out how much you pay you then need to do £80 − £32 = £48.

Activity 8: Comparing fractions of amounts

You are looking to buy house insurance and want to get the best deal. Put the following offers in order, from cheapest to most expensive, after the discount has been applied.

Table 3
Company A Company B Company C

£120 per year

£147 per year

£104 per year

Special Offer: 1/3 off!


Special Offer: 2/7 off!


Special Offer: 1/4 off!



Company C is cheapest:

  • 1/4 of £104 = £104 ÷ 4 = £26 discount
  • £104 − £26 = £78

Company A is second cheapest:

  • 1/3 of £120 = £120 ÷ 3 = £40 discount
  • £120 − £40 = £80

Company B is most expensive:

  • 2/7 of £147 = £147 ÷ 7 × 2 = £42 discount
  • £147 − £42 = £105

Discounts and special offers are not always advertised using fractions. Sometimes, you will see adverts with 10% off or 15% off. Another common area where we see percentages in everyday life would be when companies apply VAT at 20% to items or when a restaurant adds a 12.5% service charge. The next section looks at what percentages are, and how to calculate them.


In this section you have:

  • learned how to express a quantity of an amount in the form of a fraction
  • learned how to, and practised, simplifying fractions
  • revised your knowledge on finding basic fractions of amounts and progressed to finding more complex fractions of amounts.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371