Let’s start by talking about what a decimal looks like. A decimal is a number that has a decimal point somewhere in the number.

That makes sense. A decimal point is a dot, period, spot, or smudge.

**Next lesson: **Adding and Subtracting Decimals

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The following transcript is provided for your convenience.

The number could look like any of these…

1.2

1.23

1.234

1.2345

1234.234567890123456789

Do you see how there are numbers on the left and right side of the point? The numbers on the left side of the point represent whole numbers such as ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands. The numbers on the right side of the point are the decimal values.

Those numbers represent values called tenths, hundredths, thousandths, and so on. The naming difference is in the “th”. Tenths are the closest value to the point. There are no “oneths”.

The decimal values are values that are less than one. For example, the number 1.2 is the number one and two tenths. 13.8 is the number thirteen and eight tenths. It’s all about parts of a whole. Think about money for a second. U.S. money has cents. There are one hundred cents in a dollar. One cent is one-hundredth of a dollar. Everyone’s money, even in other countries, is based on decimals in one way or another.

Breaking It Down Into Tens

You’ve noticed how the numbers before and after the point use the same symbols (0-9). In the same way that our whole number system is based on tens, the decimal system is also based on tens. For example, there are ten-tenths in a whole number. There are ten hundredths to every tenth. It goes on like that.

The tenths are the largest amount less than a whole number in the decimal system. There are no oneths. As the “th” values get larger names, the values themselves get smaller. For example, four hundred thousandths is a much smaller number than four hundredths.

Examples:

• Tenths (0.x)

• Hundredths (0.0x)

• Thousandths (0.00x)

• Ten thousandths (0.000x)

• Hundred thousandths (0.0000x)

Fractions and Decimals

Fractions and decimals are related because they both describe values that are smaller than one. They are called rational numbers. If you look at a fraction as one number divided by another, the quotient can be a decimal value.

Examples:

1/4 is one quarter.

1 divided by 4 is equal to 0.25.

0.25 is the decimal equivalent to 1/4.

36/288 is one complex fraction.

36 divided by 288 is equal to 0.125.

0.125 is the decimal equivalent to 36/288.