Subtraction of Whole Numbers

There are 3 parts in subtraction of whole numbers:

• The number being subtracted is called the subtrahend

• The number being subtracted from is called minuend

• The answer to a subtraction problem is called difference

The symbol sign for subtraction is called minus, and is represented by this sign (-). In the following example, 12 is the minuend, 8 is the subtrahend, and 4 is the difference:


12 – 8 = 4

The process of Subtraction of Whole Numbers is to find the difference between two numbers. As in addition, the person solving the problem must begin from right to left. In fact, subtraction is the inverse of addition, instead of adding on we take away.


52 - 36 = 16, 9 - 7 = 2, or can also be written this way:

In order to check if the answer is right, when doing subtraction, just add the difference to subtrahend to see if you get the minuend.


36 + 16 = 52 and 7 + 2 = 9


Subtract  5386 - 865 = 4521

Rewrite the subtraction, we now have:

General Rule:

In order to subtract two whole numbers, the followings must happen:

Write the numbers in a vertical column and then subtract the bottom digits from the top digits.

. Go from right to left.

. If the bottom digit is bigger than the top digit , borrow one from the digit at the top of the next column and then add ten to the top digit before subtracting.

. When borrowing make sure to reduce the top digit in the next column by 1. The above rules stay the same , whether you're doing subtraction of whole numbers, or a decimal numbers. The same basic principle remains the same.

Language of Subtraction

There are certain keywords that indicate the problem will be solve by subtraction:

• Decreased – What is the decreased cost of the car?

• Less - how much less is it from Brooklyn than from the Bronx?

• Difference – What is the difference in price?

• Fewer – how many fewer were in the theater?

• Remaining- How many people remaining in the stadium?