# Combining ("Gathering") Like Terms with Exponents

The terms of an expression are the parts of a mathematical expression that are separated by a plus (+) or minus (â€“) sign.

Each term is either a number or the product of a number (sometimes an understood ) and one or more variables.

For example,

The four terms of the above expression are , , and .

Like Terms:

Terms are like terms if their variable parts are the same.

For Example,

In the above expression , and are like terms. and are unlike terms.

Like terms can be added or subtracted using the Distributive Property .  The variable part stays the same; we just add the coefficients (the numerical portion of the terms).  Unlike terms cannot be added or subtracted.

Example:

Simplify

Rearrange and group like terms using the Commutative and Associative Properties.

Use the Distributive Property to combine like terms.

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