Like Terms are those terms that are containing identical variables that are raised to identical power(s).

For example, the terms −8*x* and 3*x* are “like terms” here, just like 0.5*xy*^{2 }and 8*xy*^{2} are “like terms”.

The concepts of the distributive property may also help us understand one fundamental idea in algebra. This is that we can add and subtract quantities such as 12*x* and 3*x* in the same way as the numbers 12 and 3.

Let’s take a look at an example and see how we can do this.

**Add: 3 x + 12x.**

From earlier study about the distributive property and also from studying and using the commutative property, we know that *x*(3 + 12) is exactly the same as

3(*x*) + 12(*x*).

This is: *x*(15)

So the answer is: 3*x* + 12*x* = 15*x*

So we call groups of terms which are consisting of coefficients that are multiplied by identical variables “like terms”. Look at the following table that’s showing a few different sets, or groups, of these “like terms”:

Groups of Like Terms |

3x, 7x, −8x, −0.5x |

−1.1y, −4y, −8y |

12t, 25t, 100t, 1t |

4ab, −8ab, 2ab |

This lesson is very important.

The concept of “combining like terms” is often used in GED Math questions.

Next lesson: Algebraic expressions

Last Updated on November 24, 2020.