If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Intro to negative numbers

Learn what negative numbers are and how to plot them on the number line.
Here's a number line that should look very familiar. It starts at 0, then counts up by 1 from there:
A number line from 0 to 10 with evenly spaced tick marks in increments of 1.
We know that if we were to keep going to the right, we would have 11, then 12, and so on.
What happens if we keep going to the left of 0 though? We get negative numbers! To the left of 0 is 1, then 2, then 3, and so on:
A number line from negative 5 to 5 with evenly spaced tick marks in increments of 1. From left to right, it reads negative 5, negative 4, negative 3, negative 2, negative 1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Let's practice!

Problem 1A
Move the dot to 4.

Why do we need negative numbers?

Negative numbers help us describe values less than zero.


When the temperature is 8 below 0, it is less than 0. We can say the temperature is 8.
A vertical number line from negative 9 to 9 with evenly spaced tick marks in increments of 1. Negative 5, 0, and 5 are labeled on the number line. There is a closed point at negative 8 representing negative 8 degrees.

A few more negative situations

Problem 2A
A bank uses positive numbers to represent deposits and negative numbers to represent withdrawals.
How would a bank represent a withdrawal of 19.43 dollars?
Choose 1 answer:

Want to join the conversation?