# Thread: Distributive Property and Absolute Value?

1. ## Distributive Property and Absolute Value?

OK...so something doesn't seem right when I distribute a positive number versus a negative number into an absolute value. Can someone please explain this to me.

For example...it was a couple of inequality problems that caught my attention on this:

-2 abs(3x - 4) < 16

versus

3 abs(2x + 5) > 9

2. You can distribute only nonnegative numbers into absolute values. With $-2 |3x - 4|$, you can distribute the $2$ but the negative sign must stay outside.

3. ## ok...

So what do you do with the negative outside of the parentheses if you leave it there? Can someone show me an example or a place on the web where it explains this. It would be nice if I could at least see the first example I posted worked out...

Anyone???

4. Are you sure $(-2) |3x-4| < 16$ is the right inequality?!

Since the absolute value is always non-negative, multiplying it by a negative value will always yield a non-positive result and thus obviously lesser than 16 (a positive value)!

5. ## yes...

That is the problem that was given to me in an exercise to work out...is it impossible to do? I just don't get it...

6. It's possible! There's just no use playing with it as it can easily be seen that it is correct for any $x$

OK...so I guess that was a bad example to use for me to understand exactly how to do this. Can you post a few examples or rules that I can follow and learn? Anyone?!?!

-2 abs(x + 5)

-5 abs (-x - 6)

-7 abs (x - 2)

Do the rules change if the above examples were equations or inequalities?

8. Originally Posted by sdudley24
OK...so I guess that was a bad example to use for me to understand exactly how to do this. Can you post a few examples or rules that I can follow and learn? Anyone?!?!

-2 abs(x + 5)

-5 abs (-x - 6)

-7 abs (x - 2)

Do the rules change if the above examples were equations or inequalities?
No, they don't. Consider this:

Is $-2 * |-5|$ equal to $|(-2)(-5)|$? Of course not:

$-2 * |-5| = -10 \neq 10 = |(-2)(-5)|$

If we want to solve, for example, $-2|x+5| = -12$ then we will do it like this:

Divide both sides by $-2$:

$|x+5| = 6 \Rightarrow x+5 = 6$ or $x+5 = -6 \Rightarrow x_1 = 1; x_2 = -11$

9. ## better...

OK...that helped me out...and if anyone else wants to add to this whole concept, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks so much!

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# can you distribute over absolute value?

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