You are on page 1of 2

How to Add Fractions With Different Denominators

Contributor By Nicole Harms, eHow Contributing Writer Article Rating: (34 Ratings)

Email Facebook Twitter StumbleUpon Add to Favorites Print Share

Fractions are the bane of existence to many upper elementary school students. At first they seem easy, but once you start adding and subtracting them, fractions take on a whole new look. Adding and subtracting fractions, particularly if they have different denominators, is difficult for many students. However, by taking the math problem apart and doing it in a step-by-step manner, solving addition and subtraction problems that have fractions with different denominators can be a little bit easier. Difficulty: Moderately Easy Instructions Things You'll Need:

Pencil Paper

1. Step 1 Remember that you can only add or subtract fractions that have a common denominator. If the denominators are different, you need to find a common denominator in order to add or subtract the fractions. The common denominator is the least common multiple of the two denominators. 2. Step 2 Look at the denominators to determine if either one is a prime number. If both of the fractions have prime numbers as the denominator, as in 2/3 + 3/5, finding the common denominator is simple. Simply multiply the two numbers together (3 x 5 = 15) and you have your common denominator.

3. Step 3 Factor any composite denominators into a product of primes. If the problem is 5/6 + 3/8, you need to factor the 6 and the 8. The 6 factors into 2 x 3 and the 8 factors into 2 x 2 x 2. 4. Step 4 Find the least common multiple by determining which number has the most of any prime factor. In the case of 6 and 8, the 8 has the most 2s as a factor, and the 6 has the most 3s as a factor. Write down all of these factors (2, 2, 2 and 3). Multiply the factors you have written (2 x 2 x 2 x 3 = 24). This is the common denominator. 5. Step 5 Rename the original fractions into fractions with a common denominator by multiplying by a fraction that equals 1. For instance, if you need to change 5/6 into a fraction with 24 as the denominator, you will multiply by 4/4 to come up with 20/24. To change 3/8 into a fraction with 24 as the denominator, multiply by 3/3 to get 9/24. 6. Step 6 Add or subtract the fractions by adding the numerators and carrying over the common denominator. In this case, 20/24 + 9/24 = 29/24. 7. Step 7 Simplify your answer by making any improper fractions into mixed numbers and reducing. In this case, 29/24 would equal 1 5/24.