# How to collect like terms in algebra

Objects are often represented in algebra by a

**single letter**.**Like terms**share the**same**letter(s) and power(s), eg 𝑥 or 𝑥²Algebraic expressions can be

**collected together**if they are**like**terms. This is done by adding or subtracting.

## How to represent a problem using terms

3 apples and 2 plums can be represented as:

**3a + 2p**

If we were to add a further 2 apples and 4 plums to this, we would represent this as:

3a + **2a** + 2p + **4p**

3a, 4p etc. are called **terms**. Numbers without letters, are also known as terms.

## What are 'like' terms?

Terms that contains the **same letter(s)** or **power(s)** are called **like** terms:

e.g. a, -21a and 550a are like terms. 13p, 440p and -2p are like terms. And 𝑥², 70𝑥² and -23𝑥² are all like terms, too.

## How to collect terms

### Example

3a + 2p + 2a + 4p

Firstly, re-write the equation so that the like terms are together:

3a + 2a + 2p + 4p

Finally use addition to collect them:

**5a + 6p**

## Collecting terms with different mathematical signs

When collecting terms, the **sign** at the front of the number (co-efficient) tells us if we need to **add** or **subtract** them.

### Example

3t - 2y + 10t - y - 12

Firstly, re-write the equation so that the like terms are together:

3t + 10t - 2y - y - 12

Finally, add or subtract where appropriate:

**13t - 3y - 12**

## Like terms quiz

Test your knowledge with this quiz.

## Where next?

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