Combining ("Gathering") Like Terms
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 ) and one or more variables.
The four terms of the above expression are , , and .
Terms are like terms if their variable parts are the same.
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.
Use the Distributive Property to combine like terms.