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Multiplying fractions and whole numbers

Multiplying fractions is about combining parts of a whole. When you multiply two fractions together, you're taking a part of a part. When you multiply a fraction by a whole number, you're taking multiple copies of that fraction. In both cases, the result is a new fraction that represents a different part of a whole. Created by Sal Khan.

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Video transcript

Let's think a little bit about what it means to multiply 2/3 times 6. One way to think about it is to literally take six 2/3 and add them together. This is six 2/3 right over here. And if we wanted to actually compute this, this would be equal to-- well, we're going to take these six 2's and add them together. So we could view it as 2 times 6 over 3. 2 times 6 over 3, which is the same thing, of course, as 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 12/3. And what is 12/3 equal to? Well, we could rewrite 12 as-- so this is equal to-- we could rewrite 12 as 3 plus 3 plus 3 plus 3 over the yellow 3. Let me do it like this so I don't have to keep switching colors. This is going to be the same thing as 3/3 plus 3/3 plus 3/3 plus 3/3. And each of these are obviously a whole. Each of these equal 1. That's 1 and that's 1, so this is going to be equal to 4. So that's one way to conceptualize 2/3 times 6. Another way to think of it is as 2/3 of 6. So let's think about that. Let me draw a number line here. And I'm going to draw the number line up to 6. So what I care about is the section of the number line that goes to 6. So that looks pretty good. So this is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. So if we want to take 2/3 of 6, we can think of this whole section of the number line between 0 and 6 as the whole. And then we want to take 2/3 of that. So how do we do that? Well, we divide it into thirds, to three equals sections. So that's one equal section, two equal sections, and three equal sections. And we want two of those thirds. So we want 1/3 and 2/3. Now where does that get us? That gets us to 4. So we get, obviously, to the same answer. We would be in a tough situation if somehow we got two different answers. Either way, 2/3 times 6 or 6 times 2/3, either way, that is going to be equal to 4. But there are two different ways of viewing this. This first way is literally viewing it as 2/3 six times. And this way is we're taking a fraction of the number 6. We're going 2/3 of the way to 6, which would get us to 4.