Everyday maths 1 (Wales)
Everyday maths 1 (Wales)

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.

Free course

Everyday maths 1 (Wales)

1.4 Negative numbers

So far you have only looked at positive numbers, but negative numbers are just as important. Negative numbers have a minus sign (–) in front of them.

Some examples of where negative numbers will apply to real life is with temperatures and bank balances, although hopefully our bank balances will not display too many negatives!

Perhaps you’ve seen negative numbers in weather reports where a temperature is below freezing, for example –2°C, or you may have seen them on frozen food packets.

If you ever have an overdraft at the bank, you may see minus signs next to the figures. If a bank statement reads –£30, for example, this tells you how much you’re overdrawn. In other words, what you owe the bank!

Where have you seen negative numbers recently? Look at this thermometer:

Described image
Figure 2 Negative numbers on a thermometer

It shows us that:

  • –10°C is a lower temperature than –5°C
  • –15°C is a lower temperature than –10°C.

Hint: ‘Lower’ means ‘less than’.

The lower the temperature, the colder it is.

Activity 4: Using negative numbers in everyday life

  1. The following table shows the temperatures in several cities on one day.
CityTemperature
A–2°C
B–5°C
C–1°C
D–8°C
E–3°C
  • Which are the coldest and warmest cities?
  1. A particular brand of ice cream includes the following note in its storing instructions:

    • For best results, store in temperatures between –10°C and –6°C

    If your freezer’s temperature was –11°C, would it be OK to keep this ice cream in it?

Answer

  1. City D is the coldest because it has the lowest temperature. City C is the warmest because it has the highest temperature.
  2. No, because –11°C is colder than the recommended range of between –10°C and –6°C. Keeping the ice cream in your freezer would probably damage the ice cream.

You have now seen how we use negative numbers in everyday life, for example bank balances and temperatures. Try practising using them when you are out and about. You will also use this skill within some simple questions that are coming up.

FSM_1_CYMRU

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