5th Grade Math Help: Subtracting Fractions
Now that you're in 5th grade, you've probably spent a lot of time learning to write and compare fractions, and you may have learned to find equivalent fractions, too. The next step is learning to perform operations, like subtraction, with fractions. Keep reading to learn how!
Math Help for Subtracting Fractions
Keep in mind that every fraction has a numerator, which is the top number, and a denominator, which is the bottom number. When your two fractions have the same denominator, subtract the numerators, and leave the denominator the same. For example, 7/9  5/9 = 2/9, because 7  5 = 2.
Different Denominators
If you're subtracting fractions that have different denominators, you need to find equivalent fractions that have the same denominator. For instance, here's how you would solve the problem 3/4  2/3:
 List a few of the multiples of both denominators. Some multiples of four are eight, 12 and 16. Multiples of three are six, nine, 12 and 15.
 Find the lowest number that's on both lists of multiples. This number is called the least common multiple (LCM). In this example, the LCM is 12.
 For each fraction, figure out what number you need to multiply the denominator by to get the LCM. For four, that number is three, since 4 x 3 = 12. For three, it's four, because 3 x 4 = 12.
 Multiply the numerator and denominator of each fraction by that number, so each fraction has the LCM as its denominator. For instance, 3/4 x 3/3 = 9/12, and 2/3 x 4/4 = 8/12.
Now, you have an equivalent fraction for each of the original fractions. All that's left to do is subtract the numerator of 8/12 from the numerator of 9/12. Since 9/12  8/12 = 1/12, the solution is 1/12.
Mixed Numbers
To subtract mixed numbers, the first step is to change them into improper fractions. If these fractions have the same denominator, you can subtract them right away. If not, find equivalent fractions for them that have the same denominator, and then subtract. Here's an example of how to solve 3 1/5  1 3/4:
 First, change both mixed numbers to improper fractions. The mixed number 3 1/5 equals 16/5, and 1 3/4 = 7/4.
 Now, to solve 16/5  7/4, you need to find equivalent fractions that have the same denominator. Following the steps described in the last section, the equivalent fractions are 64/20 and 35/20.
 Next, subtract the numerators: 64/20  35/20 = 29/20.
For some problems, your teacher may ask you to reduce the fraction or convert it back into a mixed fraction. The improper fraction 29/20 can't be reduced, but it's equal to the mixed fraction 1 9/20.
Other Articles You May Be Interested In

Looking for a way to get your child engaged with math? There are many free, fun math games online that explore basic concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as more advanced games that offer practice with decimals and fractions. Read on to discover five of our favorite educational  and fun! ...

Children often struggle to master concepts such as addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions, and math involving time and money. Read this article to learn how you can help your elementary school aged children minimize their homework hassles.
We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In
Huntington Learning
 What Huntington Learning offers:
 Online and incenter tutoring
 One on one tutoring
 Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
K12
 What K12 offers:
 Online tutoring
 Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
 AdvancEDaccredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Kaplan Kids
 What Kaplan Kids offers:
 Online tutoring
 Customized learning plans
 RealTime Progress Reports track your child's progress
Kumon
 What Kumon offers:
 Incenter tutoring
 Individualized programs for your child
 Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
Sylvan Learning
 What Sylvan Learning offers:
 Online and incenter tutoring
 Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
 Regular assessment and progress reports
Tutor Doctor
 What Tutor Doctor offers:
 InHome tutoring
 One on one attention by the tutor
 Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
TutorVista
 What TutorVista offers:
 Online tutoring
 Student works oneonone with a professional tutor
 Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations