__Steps:__- Distribute the negative sign
- Include this step only if there is a minus sign in front of a polynomial in parentheses
- Remove the parentheses
- Include this step if there are polynomials in parentheses
- Group like terms
- Put together and order like terms (terms with the same variables and the same exponent)
- Add like terms
- Add the coefficients of the like terms

Let’s see some examples to better understand distributing the minus sign.

First example (click here):

1. Distribute the negative sign

When we imagine that there is a -1 instead of – outside the parentheses, it is easy to see and remind ourselves that we have to distribute the negative. Distributing the negative sign allows that minus sign to turn into a plus sign.

2. Remove the parentheses

3. Group like terms

4. Add like terms

Second example (click here):

1. Distribute the negative sign

2. Remove the parentheses

3. Group like terms

4. Add like terms

Last example (click here):

1. Distribute the negative sign

2. Remove the parentheses

3. Group like terms

4. Add like terms

Subtracting polynomials takes some practice to get the hang of distributing and remembering to distribute. Once you’ve mastered adding polynomials, subtracting them should be simple. For more practice, check out Symbolab’s Practice.

Until next time,

Leah