Combining ("Gathering") Like Terms
First, we'll define what "terms" are. Then we'll see what "like terms" are.
A term is a product of a number and some variables, like or . If the variable part is the same in two terms, they're called like terms .
and are like terms; and are unlike terms.
and are like terms; and are unlike.
If two terms are "like" then you can add or subtract them. Notice the use of the Distributive Property here.
The variable part stays the same; we can just add the coefficients (the numbers in front of the variables).
But unlike terms can't be added.
or or , and
(The symbol means "not equal to.")
This is important when simplifying polynomials .
First, collect the like terms in parentheses.