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# 2 Easy Steps for Subtracting Negative Numbers

Get the free Subtracting Negative Numbers worksheet and other resources for teaching & how to Subtract Negative Numbers

## Here’s how to Subtract Negative Numbers

Subtracting Negative Numbers is when you subtract integers that have a negative sign with another integer that can be positive or negative. Negative Numbers are less than zero and, therefor, negative. The way to subtract negative numbers depends on if you are subtracting two negative numbers from each other or if you are subtracting one negative number with one positive number.
When Subtracting Negative Numbers you find the absolute value of the numbers being subtracted. The absolute value of a number is the distance of that number from zero. Because the absolute value is distance, it will always be positive since distance cannot be negative. Once you have the absolute value of each number, you will just subtract the smaller number from the larger number. Then you will keep the sign of the larger number.
If the expression has two negatives next to each other, they will turn into a positive. Typically you will hear this referred to as “leave-change-change.” This means that you keep the sign of the first number the same, then change the subtraction sign to an addition sign, and change the sign of the last number.

Common Core Standard: 7.NS.1

## How do you answer Negative minus Negative problems?

Subtracting Negative Numbers is the point at which you subtract whole numbers that have a negative sign with another whole number that can be positive or negative. Negative Numbers are under zero and, therefor, negative.

When Subtracting Negative Numbers you find the absolute of the numbers being subtracted. The absolute of a number is the separation of that number from zero.

If the problem has two negative signs by one another, they will transform into a positive. Normally you will hear this alluded to as “leave-change-change,” meaning leave the first number, change the sign, then change the last number.

## 2 Easy Rules for Subtracting Negative Numbers

1. If the two numbers have opposite signs, you subtract them then keep the sign of the larger number.
2. If the expression has a subtraction sign next to a negative number, you must change the subtraction sign to an addition sign and the negative number into a positive number. This is called “leave-change-change.”

## Subtracting Negative Numbers Practice Problems Quiz

/5

Subtracting Negative Numbers

Click Start to begin the practice quiz!

1 / 5

Solve.

-4 - (-2)

2 / 5

Solve.

-1 - (-8)

3 / 5

Solve.

1 - (-5)

4 / 5

Solve.

-9 - (-2)

5 / 5

Solve.

3 - (-2)

0%

## Watch the video explanation of our Subtracting Negative Numbers Worksheet

Watch our free video on how to Subtract Negative Numbers. This video shows how to solve problems that are on our free Subtracting Negative Numbers worksheet that you can get by submitting your email above.

Watch the free Subtracting Negative Numbers video on YouTube here: Subtracting Negative Numbers Video

Video Transcript:

This video is about negative numbers problems. You can get the adding and subtracting negative numbers worksheets​ using this video for free by clicking on the link in the description below.

There are two different types of problems you may encounter when figuring out how to subtract negative numbers. In general, the rule is when you have two negatives next to each other, the negatives will cancel and they will become a positive. Sometimes this is referred to as leave, change, change. In other words, you leave the first one then you change both the second, this one right here and this sign right here. so these will both become positive. I like to think of it as instead of rewriting it as a plus and a plus as one big plus sign like this. When you have the two negatives next to each other they will cancel a make a positive.

In this first example on our add and subtract negative numbers worksheet is three minus negative one we have the two negatives next to each other and we already know that they have to make a positive. So, I’m going say leave, change, change or that this just becomes a big plus. Rewriting this gives us just three plus one which is obviously three plus one is just four. That’s easy. On the second example you have a very similar problem except this number in front is negative. This time it’s negative four minus a negative two. Again, we have two negatives next to each other, so they become a positive and when I rewrite it this time this will be negative four plus positive two. If you remember anytime you have a negative plus a positive or when you have two numbers that are not alike when you’re adding two numbers with different signs you have to actually subtract them so we subtract four minus two and we get two so we know our answer has to be two and then in order to determine the sign of the answer you take the sign of the larger number in this case four is larger than two four is negative which means your answer also has to be negative, so the answer for this is negative two.

Jumping to our first problem on our worksheet about how to subtract negative numbers the first problem gives us one minus negative five. So again, you can use the rule leave, change, change and we leave this one and then we’re going to change the signs on the next, to this one, and this one. When we do that, we use the rule for positive minus negative and we’re going to make both of these into a plus, then we can rewrite our problem because we have to change both of these from negative to positive, into one plus five. So now it’s real easy just one plus five which we know one plus five is obviously six. Our answer is going to be six. This is the easiest way to learn subtracting positive and negative numbers.

The second problem on our negative number’s worksheet gives us negative one minus negative eight. This time we have a negative minus a negative. When you have a negative minus a negative, the same rule applies. You will do leave, change, change, so we leave this one as negative one then we change this sign, so this changes and also this changes. Leave, change, change, so this will become a positive and a positive or I’ve been writing as a big plus sign. You can do it either way but I’m going to rewrite it as a big plus sign. Now our problem is negative one plus eight. Now when we add these together when you have a negative plus a positive you actually subtract those, so we’re going to do eight minus one and we will get seven. We know our answer has to be seven and then to determine what the sign is on this you take the sign of the larger number. Because one’s negative and ones positive you have to look at these and determine which ones larger. In this case eight is larger which means this seven is going to be positive. Our answer is just going to be positive seven or just seven.

Our last example gives us negative four minus negative two. Again this problem is a negative minus a negative and shows subtracting negative and positive numbers. Anytime you have a negative minus another negative you can use the rule leave, change, change. So we’re going to leave this one as negative four, then we’re going to change this one into a positive, and this one into a positive. I’ve been rewriting them as a big plus for leave, change, change. Now it’s negative four plus 2, so just plus 2. Now you have negative four plus two and you have two different signs. To determine the answer to that you actually subtract them. Four minus two is two, so we know it’s going to be two. And then to determine what the sign is of your answer, you look at the two numbers that you subtracted. Negative four is larger or four is larger than two and because this is negative that means your answer also has to be negative. Our final answer for our subtracting negative numbers problem is negative two. You can try all the practice problems by downloading the free adding subtracting negative numbers worksheet above.

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