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Decimals - What are they?

Decimals are numbers after a "." (a dot) that show an amount less than one. It's that simple! You see decimals (which can also be expressed as Fractions everywhere - prices in stores usually look like this: $1.99. The ".99" there is the decimal saying 99 cents. Depending on how many numbers are behind the decimal point, the decimal may be showing a different number.

See the graphic below for an example of the tenths, hundredths, thousandths, ten-thousandths, hundred thousandths, and millionths place. Generally, the further you go to the right of the decimal, the more precise the number.

The further right you go down the decimal, the small the value is. The names for each place holder also starts repeating, as shown in the graphic (ten-thousandths, ten-millionths).

There are two other subtle facts about fractions that many people (including adults) often forget or have trouble understanding.

1. Overall Decimal Values:
The number: 15.09 is less than 15.099, and both numbers are less than 15.1.

2. Finding values between decimals. Such as: Find a value between 15.25 and 15.26.
A number of values between 15.25 and 15.26 is infinite! 15.251 is one answer, as is 15.250000000000000000001!

As you can see, decimals are very easy to understand. And you'll probably really like it that Adding and Subtracting, as well as Multiplying and Dividing decimals are just as easy!


Find another math lesson at the Math Lesson and Tutorial Center!

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