What execute those tiny sideways carat symbols mean? They"re inequalities! Inequalities can be difficult to get a manage on, especially because the higher than and also less than indicators look therefore similar. But these symbols are an extremely useful, because they help us show the relationship in between numbers or equations in a method that doesn"t simply say that they"re equal.

You are watching: Less than (<), greater than (>), and not (not equal to) are examples of ____.

In this article, fine be talking about what inequalities are, exactly how they’re represented, and also how come remember i beg your pardon sign means what.

Not understanding what the indicators mean might make her math homework feeling something favor this.

What Are better Than and also Less Than signs For?

Inequalities are math problems that don’t deal with with a clean “equals” answer—instead, they compare 2 things, demonstrating the relationship between them quite than showing that one is same to another. Thus the name; “inequality” means that two things space not equal.

We’re all familiar with the equal sign, “=” in ~ this point in math. But “>” and also “



Greater than—the number ~ above the left is greater than the number top top the right; 3 > 2

Less than or same to—the number ~ above the left is less than or same to the number ~ above the right; 2 or 3 ≤ 3

Greater than or equal to—the number top top the left is greater than or same to the number ~ above the right; 2 or 3 ≥ 2

Does not equal—the number top top the left does not equal the number top top the right; 2 ≠ 3

Now we"ll finally get come talk about why every these photos are of crocodiles.

How to Remember higher Than and Less than Signs

Though the better than and less 보다 signs have actually clear meanings, they deserve to be kind of tough to remember. Every one of them watch similar, with the exemption of the “does no equal” sign. So how deserve to you mental them?

Alligator Method

One of the ideal ways come memorize the higher than and less than indications is come imagine them as small alligators (or crocodiles), through the number on either next representing a variety of fish. The alligator constantly wants to eat the larger number of fish, so whatever number the mouth is open up toward is the larger number.


The alligator’s mouth is open toward the 4, so also if us weren’t sure that 4 is a bigger number 보다 3, the > authorize would tell us. every inequality signs give us the relationship in between the very first number and also the second, start with the first number, so 4 > 3 translates to “4 is greater than 3.”


This likewise works the other way around. If you watch 5 , for this reason no look like an L, it can not be “less than.”

Equal sign Method

Once did you do it mastered the Alligator or l method, the various other symbols are easy! “Greater than or equal to” and also “less 보다 or equal to” are simply the applicable price with fifty percent an equal sign under it. for example, 4 or 3 ≥ 1 reflects us a greater sign over half an equal sign, definition that 4 or 3 space greater than or same to 1.

It works the various other way, too. 1 ≤ 2 or 3 shows us a much less than sign over fifty percent of an same sign, therefore we understand it means that 1 is less 보다 or equal to 2 or 3.

The “does no equal” sign is even easier! It’s simply an equal authorize crossed out. If you view an equal authorize crossed out, it way that the equal sign doesn’t apply—thus, 2 ≠ 3 means that 2 does not equal 3.


Keep these things in mind and also you"ll look at this happy about working v inequalities.

Key Tips because that Working through Inequalities

Inequalities room tricky—we’re provided to having a clear and also concrete prize for mathematics problems, butinequalities don"t always give united state that. When you"re working through inequalities, keep these points in psychic to aid ease you v the process.

Inequalities are All around Relationships

Keep in mind as you’re functioning on inequalities the they’re frequently asking friend to solve for a connection or to identify which symbol is appropriate fairly than questioning you to fix for a solitary number. You don’t need to finish up through two numbers on either side of one equal authorize to it is in right—the answer just needs to be true.

Isolate her Variables

When you’re working through inequalities with variables, it’s important to mental that, in general, you’ll be trying to isolate the variable to one side or the other. emphasis on condensing numbers and also canceling points out once you can, constantly with the goal of acquiring the variable alone ~ above either next of the equation.

Negative Numbers adjust the better Than or much less Than Sign

Don’t forget the performing details actions will certainly flip the sign. once you main point or divide by a an adverse number, you have to flip the “greater than” or “less than” sign in addition to it.

Don"t main point or divide by a Variable—Most that the Time

Unless you understand for specific that a variable will always be optimistic or always be negative, don’t main point or division an inequality through a variable.

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What’s Next?

Inequalities aren"t the just tricky part of math—rational numbers can also be confusing! This guide will assist walk you through what a reasonable number is and what they look like.

Ever wondered how many zeroes space in large numbers? How plenty of zeroes are there in a billion? How about a trillion?

Need to get some exercise in? These 5th-grade math games can assist you hone your skills!