# Math Help - Easy alegbra question

1. ## Easy alegbra question

Hey forum, I have a pretty straight forward question and it is does placement really matter in algebra?
EX.
 Twelve is sixteen less than four times a number. 12 = 4x - 16

So what if I wrote 12=16-4x would I be in the wrong?

How do you know where things are placed?

This is easy but I honestly can say I forgot this stuff but it's somewhere around. Thanks a ton!

2. ## Re: Easy alegbra question

Yes you would be in the wrong. In general \displaystyle \begin{align*} a - b \neq b - a \end{align*}. The easiest way to think about it is to put some numbers in place, for example, is 4 - 3 the same as 3 - 4?

3. ## Re: Easy alegbra question

"16 less than" 16 would be 16- 16= 0.
"16 less than" 32 would be 32- 16= 16.
"16 less than" 50 would be 50- 16= 34.

Notice we always are subtracting the "16" from the other number.