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12 – Word questions

By turning a word question into algebra, we can solve it:


Example 1:

Q. There are twice as many sheep as cows in a field. How do we write this as an equation?

Let number of cows be C and the number of sheep be S.

There are twice as many sheep as cows, so S must be twice C.

We write this as S = 2C


Example 2:

Q. Jess is 4 years older than Matt. Their total age is 100. How old are they?

Let Jess be x years old, using a letter, because her age is unknown.

Jess is 4 years older than Matt. So Matt’s age is x – 4 years old.

Total age is x(Jess) + x – 4(Matt) = 100.

or 2x – 4 = 100; so 2x = 104; so x = 52.

So Jess is 52 and Matt is 48.


Your Turn:

Q. Cyril, Jen and Brian combined age is 100.

Cyril is twice as old as Jen and she is 4 years older than Brian.

How old are they?

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