Writing numbers down on a Number Line makes it easy to tell
which numbers are bigger or smaller.
The Number Line
|Negative Numbers (-)||Positive Numbers (+)|
|(The line continues left and right forever.)|
Numbers on the left are smaller than numbers on the right.
Try this interactive number line (click to mark):
You can also try the zoomable number line.
Example: John owes $3, Virginia owes $5 but Alex doesn't owe anything, in fact he has $3 in his pocket. Place these people on the number line to find who is poorest and who is richest.
|Having money in your pocket is positive.
But owing money is negative.
So John has "-3", Virginia "-5" and Alex "+3"
|Now it is easy to see that Virginia is poorer than John (-5 is less than -3) and John is poorer than Alex (-3 is smaller than 3), and Alex is, of course, the richest!|
Using The Number Line
Absolute Value means to think only about how far a number is from zero.
For example "6" is 6 away from zero, but "-6" is also 6 away from zero.
So the absolute value of 6 is 6, and the absolute value of -6 is also 6