Number calculations

Adding and subtracting decimals

Adding and subtracting decimals

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Explainer Video

Tutor: Bilal


Adding and subtracting decimals

​​In a nutshell

Adding and subtracting decimals follows exactly the same procedure as adding and subtracting whole numbers. However, decimals require a better understanding of place value.

The column method with decimals

Adding and subtracting using the column method also works for decimals. However, there are a few things to take note of.

Reminder when using the column method with decimals

  • Remember to line up all the numbers that come after the decimal point as well - so the tenths, hundredths, thousandths and so on.
  • Use zero as a placeholder if one number has fewer place values than the other.
  • It is possible to "carry over a one" or "borrow a one" from the units digit to the tenths digit - the decimal point isn't a barrier!
  • The decimal point should be aligned under the answer line also.

Example: subtraction

What is 2.1980.522.198-0.52?

Align the two numbers as normal, making sure to line up the decimal point and all digits after the point.

Note how 0.520.52 has no thousandths digit, but 2.1982.198 does. So, add zero as a placeholder so both numbers have the same amount of digits. 0.520.52 is hence written as 0.5200.520.


Example: addition

What is 12.34+9.7512.34+9.75?


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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

How do you add and subtract decimals with the column method?

How do you add and subtract decimals?


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