Understanding Basic Subtraction

Tiffany Maths dress

Tiffany likes maths and loves to learn how to calculate. She likes to wear her numbers dress when she is learning maths.

Tiffany has been learning basic subtraction – how to subtract a number from a larger number 

Did you know?

Subtracting can also be called taking away

You can use objects or your fingers to help with subtracting numbers

When numbers are taken away the answer is always a smaller number.


How do we subtract numbers?

four blocks

Here are four blocks

2 blocks

If we take two blocks away from the four blocks

We will be left with just two blocks


If we write this as a sum it will look like this:


The – (minus) sign indicates that two blocks need to be taken away from the four blocks. The = (equals) sign is used before writing the result.


You can use objects or your fingers to make subtracting easier

ten hearts

Here are ten hearts

5 hearts

If we take five hearts away

5 hearts

We will be left with five hearts


Tiffany has learned enjoyed learning about basic subtraction. She summed up her learning with the following keywords: 

equals, minus, numbers, objects, plus, subtract, take away, total