This comprehensive guide provides step-by-step instructions to solve different types of mixed number subtraction problems.

Author

Katie Wickliff

Published

October 19, 2023

Author

Katie Wickliff

Published

Oct 19, 2023

Author

Katie Wickliff

Published

Oct 19, 2023

Key takeaways

- Mixed numbers consist of a whole number and a fractional part, such as 4 ⅓
- Finding the least common denominator is a key part of
**subtracting mixed numbers with unlike denominators** - Some mixed number subtraction problems require students to regroup, or “borrow”

Table of contents

**how to subtract mixed numbers **with the same and different denominators.

Before s**ubtracting mixed numbers**, students need to understand that a mixed number is comprised of a whole number and part of a number, which is also called a fraction. Students should be able to identify each component and recognize both the numerator and the denominator of the fraction, like this:

When learning to **subtract mixed numbers**, reviewing the process one step at a time can help students recognize each part of the mixed number and determine how to solve for that particular problem.

To subtract mixed numbers with like denominators, follow the steps below.

Let’s use 6 ⅔ – 2 ⅓ as an example.

First, subtract the whole numbers.

**6-2=4**

Next, subtract the fractions.

**⅔-⅓=⅓ **

Finally, write the mixed number answer.

**4 ⅓ **

To subtract mixed numbers with unlike–or unequal–denominators, let’s use the example problem of 5 ¾- 2 ⅛

First, we need to look at the fractions and find the least common denominator.

¾ and ⅛ have a least common denominator of 8.

What is the least common denominator?

The least common denominator, also known as the lowest common denominator, is the smallest number the denominators can be divided into.

Example:

The denominator in ¾ is 4.

4 can be divided into 1,2, and 4.

The denominator in ⅛ is 8. 8 can be divided into 1,2,4,8.

The smallest number the denominators both have in common is 4.

4 is the least common denominator.

Next, we need to rename the fraction using the least common denominator.

To do this, we multiply both the bottom and top of the fraction.

5 (3×2/4×2) = 5 6/8

Now that the two fractions have equal denominators, we subtract the mixed numbers using the process above.

**5 6/8- 2 ⅛= **

**5-2= 3**

**6/8- ⅛= ⅝**

**3 ⅝ **

Let’s look at the example problem of 7 ⅓- 4 ⅚

First, we need to find the least common denominator.

⅓ and ⅚ have a least common denominator of 6.

Next, we need to rename the fraction using the least common denominator.

To do this, we multiply both the bottom and top of the fraction.

Now we can rewrite the problem as:

**7 2/6- 4 ⅚**

Even though our mixed numbers now have the same denominator, we can’t subtract 2/6 from ⅚ because we’d get a negative number.

Similar to a whole number subtraction problem, we need to borrow one whole from the place to the left and add it to the right — but in fractional form.

Now, we have 7 8/6 and can easily subtract the like denominators.

**7 8/6- 4 ⅚ = 3 3/6 or 3 ½**

Question 1: 3 ⅚ - 2 ⅙ = ?

3 ⅚- 2 ⅙=?

3-2 = 1

⅚-⅙= 4/6

**Answer: 4 4/6 **

Question 2: 6 8/9 - 5 ⅔= ?

6 8/9-5 ⅔=?

Find the least common multiple of 3 and 9, which is 9.

5 (2×3/3×3)= 5 6/9

6 8/9- 5 6/9=

**Answer: 1 2/9**

Question 3: 9 ⅞ - 5 ⅛ = ?

9 ⅞- 5 ⅛=?

9-5= 4

⅞- ⅛= 6/8

**Answer: 4 6/8 **

Question 4: 3 3/9 - 1 5/9 = ?

2 12/9- 1 5/9= 1 7/9

Question 5: 4 ⅓- 1 ⅙ = ?

Find the least common multiple of 3 and 6, which is 6.

4 (1×2/3×2)= 4 2/6

4 2/6- 1 ⅙=

**Answer: 3 1/6**

To subtract mixed numbers, you must first find the least common denominator of each. Then you can subtract or regroup in order to subtract.

In order to subtract a whole number from a mixed number, you need to first convert the whole number into a fraction. Then, you need to change the mixed number into an improper fraction. Finally, find the common denominator of the two fractions in order to subtract.

Lesson credits

Katie Wickliff

Katie holds a master’s degree in Education from the University of Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in both Journalism and English from The University of Iowa. She has over 15 years of education experience as a K-12 classroom teacher and Orton-Gillingham certified tutor. Most importantly, Katie is the mother of two elementary students, ages 8 and 11. She is passionate about math education and firmly believes that the right tools and support will help every student reach their full potential.

Katie Wickliff

Katie holds a master’s degree in Education from the University of Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in both Journalism and English from The University of Iowa. She has over 15 years of education experience as a K-12 classroom teacher and Orton-Gillingham certified tutor. Most importantly, Katie is the mother of two elementary students, ages 8 and 11. She is passionate about math education and firmly believes that the right tools and support will help every student reach their full potential.

Parents, sign up for a DoodleMath subscription and see your child become a math wizard!

Manage cookie consent

To provide the best experiences, we use technologies like cookies to store and/or access device information. Consenting to these technologies will allow us to process data such as browsing behaviour or unique IDs on this site. Not consenting or withdrawing consent, may adversely affect certain features and functions. Privacy policy.

The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.

The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.

The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.

The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.

Book a chat with our team

If you’d like to use Doodle’s browser version, please visit this page on a desktop.

To log in to Doodle on this device, you can do so through our apps. You can find out how to download them here: