How to Simplify Expression
Question
What is the first step in simplifying these expressions?
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Hi, my name is Bassem Saad. I'm an associate math instructor and a Ph.D. candidate, and I'm here today for About.com to show you how to simplify an expression.
Follow the Simplification Process for Expressions

Notice in this example, none of the terms are divided by a variable. This makes the simplification a two-step process. The first step, you want to distribute. Notice you have a parentheses right here and a variable inside. You can't combine what's inside the parentheses – you distribute the three to each term. That's gives us six, because three, times two, plus three, times n – that's just three n – minus 12n, plus one.

In the next step, all you have to do is add or subtract like terms. We can group like terms, so you have three n, minus 12n. That gives us a minus nine n. Then you have six, plus one – that's seven. So we have simplified this expression to negative nine n, plus seven.
Practice Examples for Simplifying Expressions

Let's take a look at another example. Say we have this expression. Now we have two terms we want to distribute, so that's our first step. We distribute the three, to two x and to minus one, to give us six x, minus three; plus – and we distribute the five – into three x, and into two. That gives us 15x, plus ten. And the last step is we can add or subtract like terms, so we've got a six x, and a plus 15x - that's 21x. And a minus three, plus a ten. Well, that's just like ten, minus three, which is seven. So, our expression is simplified down to 21x, plus seven.

So now we know how to simplify expressions. Thanks for watching, and to learn more visit us on the web at about.com.