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 (–) sign.

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

For example,

Math formula

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

Like Terms:

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

For Example,

Math formula

In the above expression Math formula , and Math formula are like terms. Math formula and Math formula 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.


Simplify Math formula

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

Math formula

Use the Distributive Property to combine like terms.

Math formula

Math formula

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