What execute those bit sidemeans carat signs mean? They"re inequalities! Inecharacteristics can be tough to obtain a handle on, specifically bereason the better than and also much less than indications look so similar. But these signs are incredibly advantageous, because they assist us show the connection in between numbers or equations in a means that does not simply say that they"re equal.

You are watching: Less than (<), greater than (>), and not (not equal to) are examples of ____.

In this short article, we’ll be talking around what inefeatures are, just how they’re represented, and exactly how to remember which sign suggests what.

Not understanding what the indications suppose might make your math homework-related feel something favor this.

What Are Greater Than and also Less Than Signs For?

Inecharacteristics are math difficulties that don’t resolve via a clear “equals” answer—rather, they compare two things, demonstrating the partnership between them rather than showing that one is equal to another. Hence the name; “inequality” implies that 2 things are not equal.

We’re all acquainted through the equal authorize, “=” at this allude in math. But “>” and “



Greater than—the number on the left is better than the number on the right; 3 > 2

Less than or equal to—the number on the left is much less than or equal to the number on the right; 2 or 3 ≤ 3

Greater than or equal to—the number on the left is higher than or equal to the number on the right; 2 or 3 ≥ 2

Does not equal—the number on the left does not equal the number on the right; 2 ≠ 3

Now we"ll ultimately get to talk around why all these photos are of crocodiles.

How to Remember Greater Than and also Less Than Signs

Though the greater than and less than indicators have actually clear definitions, they can be sort of difficult to remember. All of them look comparable, with the exemption of the “does not equal” authorize. So how can you remember them?

Alligator Method

One of the ideal methods to memorize the greater than and also less than indications is to imagine them as bit alligators (or crocodiles), with the numbers on either side representing a number of fish. The alligator always desires to eat the larger number of fish, so whatever number the mouth is open toward is the bigger number.


The alligator’s mouth is open up towards the 4, so also if we weren’t certain that 4 is a bigger number than 3, the > sign would tell us. All inequality indicators offer us the partnership in between the initially number and also the second, beginning through the first number, so 4 > 3 converts to “4 is higher than 3.”


This likewise functions the other means about. If you see 5 , so doesn’t look like an L, it can’t be “less than.”

Equal Sign Method

Once you’ve mastered the Alligator or L method, the other symbols are easy! “Greater than or equal to” and “much less than or equal to” are just the applicable symbol through half an equal sign under it. For example, 4 or 3 ≥ 1 reflects us a better sign over fifty percent an equal authorize, meaning that 4 or 3 are greater than or equal to 1.

It functions the various other method, as well. 1 ≤ 2 or 3 shows us a much less than sign over fifty percent of an equal authorize, so we know it indicates that 1 is much less than or equal to 2 or 3.

The “does not equal” authorize is also easier! It’s just an equal authorize crossed out. If you watch an equal authorize crossed out, it indicates that the equal sign doesn’t apply—therefore, 2 ≠ 3 means that 2 does not equal 3.


Keep these points in mind and also you"ll look this happy about functioning via ineattributes.

Key Tips For Working With Inequalities

Ineattributes are tricky—we’re offered to having a clear and also concrete answer for math troubles, butinequalities don"t constantly provide us that. When you"re functioning via inequalities, store these points in mind to help ease you with the process.

Inefeatures are All About Relationships

Keep in mind as you’re working on inecharacteristics that they’re typically asking you to solve for a relationship or to identify which symbol is appropriate rather than asking you to fix for a single number. You don’t need to finish up via 2 numbers on either side of an equal authorize to be right—the answer simply demands to be true.

Isolate Your Variables

When you’re functioning with inecharacteristics with variables, it’s important to remember that, in general, you’ll be trying to isolate the variable to one side or the other. Focus on condensing numbers and also canceling things out once you deserve to, always through the goal of gaining the variable alone on either side of the equation.

Negative Numbers Change the Greater Than or Less Than Sign

Don’t forgain that performing certain actions will flip the sign. When you multiply or divide by a negative number, you should flip the “higher than” or “much less than” authorize along with it.

Don"t Multiply or Divide by a Variable—Many of the Time

Unmuch less you know for particular that a variable will certainly always be positive or constantly be negative, don’t multiply or divide an inehigh quality by a variable.

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What’s Next?

Inequalities aren"t the only tricky component of math—rational numbers can also be confusing! This guide will help walk you through what a rational number is and also what they look favor.

Ever wondered how many type of zeroes are in big numbers? How many type of zeroes are there in a billion? How around a trillion?

Need to get some exercise in? These 5th-grade math games can help you hone your skills!