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Numbers, units and arithmetic
Numbers, units and arithmetic

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1.9 Negative numbers

Numbers can be positive or negative, i.e. greater than or less than zero. Negative numbers have several uses; for example, to measure temperatures below zero, such as 3°C (‘minus 3 degrees Celsius’). They are also used to represent debts and overdrawn accounts: a bank balance of £84.33 means ‘overdrawn by £84.33’.

Negative numbers are shown on the number line to the left of 0. The animation below shows 8, 7, 6, etc.

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The numbers always increase as you move to the right along the number line, wherever you start from. 1 is to the right of 2, so 1 is greater than 2. 1° is warmer than 2° and a bank balance of £1 is more than one of £2 (two pounds overdrawn).