Negative numbers in business

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Negative numbers in business are a key part of the NUMERACY SKILLS FOR BUSINESS COURSE and Accounting Trainees need to understand negative numbers.


Negative numbers are used regularly in everyday life. In winter the weatherman may say that the temperature tomorrow will be minus 4° Celsius. We use them in accounting also, when a bank account is overdrawn by £50, we say overdrawn rather the minus £50. But the point is that any number below zero is a negative number.
In accounting we put negative numbers with a bracket round them rather then a minus sign but they both mean the same:
(£5) = -£5
Because the number is below zero we need need some additional rules of arithmetic for dealing with negative numbers.
The rules for using negative numbers can be summarised as follows:
Addition and subtraction

Adding a negative number is the same as subtracting a positive:

60 + (-20) = 60 – 20 = 40

Subtracting a negative number is the same as adding a positive:

60 – (-20) = 60 + 20 = 80

Question 1
50 – (-30) = ?


Question 2
100 + (-40) = ?

Multiplication and division

A positive number multiplied by a negative gives a negative 20 x -4 = -80

Question 3
30 x -5 = ?

A positive number divided by a negative gives a negative 20 / -5 = -4

Question 4
100/-5 =?

A negative number multiplied by a negative gives a positive -50 x -10 = 500

Question 5
-6 x -2 = ?

A negative number divided by a negative gives a positive -18 / -6 = 3

Question 6
-36/-9 = ?



In the questions below we will assume the convention that if a number is in brackets it means it is negative.
Question 7
(2) x (3) = ?

Question 8
6 – (8) = ?

Question 9
6 + (8) = ?

Question 10
2 x (3) = ?

Question 11
(8) / 4 =


Question 12
(8) / (4) = ?

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