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What Are Fractions?


A fraction is also a number, but it looks a bit different than the other numbers you are used to. A fraction consists of a numerator, a fraction bar and a denominator.

Rule

Important Terms and Expressions

NUMERATOR DENOMINATOR

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Fraction with 2 in the numerator and 4 in the denominator

A fraction shows you how many parts of something you have. Each part has the same size, and the numerator tells you how many of these you have. The denominator tells you how many parts there are in total.

When you and a friend are sharing a pizza equally between you, each of you get half a pizza. With decimal numbers, you would have written that the two of you got 0.5 pizza each. This can also be written as a fraction. In that case, you write 1 2. Think of this as “1 pizza divided by 2 people”. The fraction bar means “divided by”. Take a look at the picture below.

What happens if your little sister enters the room right when you are about to slice the pizza? Earlier there were only two people, but now you have to slice the pizza in such a way that all three of you get an equal part. How much does each of you get now?

Three pizzas divided into parts

You get one third of a pizza each. This can also be written as a fraction, which would be 1 3. You can think of this as “1 pizza divided by 3 people”. When you slice the pizza into 3 pieces, your friend, your little sister and yourself each receive one slice. The numerator is the total number of pizza slices you made, which is 3.

We sliced the same pizza in both of the two examples above, but you got different amounts depending on how many you had to share the pizza with. When you shared it between three people, each of you got 1 3 = 0.33¯. That’s less than 1 2 = 0.5, which is what you would get if you shared the pizza between only two people.

Different representations of 1/3

The line above the number 3 means that there are an infinite number of threes following behind it. Below, you can see some examples of fractions, and how they are written in decimal form.

Examples of fractions and their numeric value in decimal form

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What Is the Value of a Fraction?