Variables and Expressions – Combining Like Terms

Combining Like Terms

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Students learn to simplify an expression by combining like terms. For example, to simplify 5a + 7b – a – 2b, combine the like terms 5a – 1a, to get 4a, and combine the like terms 7b – 2b, to get 5b. So 5a + 7b – a – 2b simplifies to 4a + 5b. To simplify 2x^2 – 3x + 12 + 4x – 5x^2, combine the like terms 2x^2 – 5x^2, to get –3x^2, and combine the like terms –3x + 4x, to get 1x. So 2x^2 – 3x + 12 + 4x – 5x^2 simplifies to –3x^2 + 1x + 12.
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