How do I use the commutative property?


Anonymous, Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Currently Program Director at Aviation Academy, Co-Author of Awakening Your STEM School

Michael is right, and you really begin to use this when you begin courses such as Algebra I and above when you are combining like terms. This is one of those properties that you need to understand to that you won't be making a mistakes when finalizing an answer. I strongly suggest that you also take the time to understand the distributive, and associative properties as well.

Michael Schoch, Answers questions on Noodle

User avatar for Michael Schoch

If you've ever heard of someone commuting to work you know they're moving from one place to the other. The commutative properties of addition and multiplication simply tells us that you can move numbers around without affecting the sum or multiple they produce.

For addition, the property is written as: a + b = b + a

All this means is that the order of the numbers wont effect the final sum. 1 + 2 = 3 just like 2 + 1 = 3.

Similarly, the commutative property of multiplication tells you that ab = ba. This simply means that 2 x 3 = 6 just like 3 x 2 = 6.

For more help with the commutative property and similar concepts, try watching some of the videos on this learning resources page. This video is short and clearly explains both the commutative and associative properties.

Best of luck!

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