Mathematics: Comparing Numbers

Comparing Numbers

It is good to know if one number is bigger, smaller or the same as another number!


We use these signs to compare numbers:


If two values are equal, we use the “equals” signexample: 2+2 = 4

But if one value is smaller than another, we can use a “less than” sign.example: 3 < 5

And if one value is bigger than another, we can use a “greater than” signexample: 9 > 6

Less Than and Greater Than

The “less than” sign and the “greater than” sign look like a “V” on its side, don’t they?

To remember which way around the “<” and “>” signs go, just remember:

  • BIG > small
  • small < BIG

The “small” end always points to the smaller number, like this:


Greater Than Symbol: BIG > small


10 > 5

“10 is greater than 5”



10 > 5

“10 is greater than 5″

Or the other way around:

5 < 10

“5 is less than 10″


Do you see how the symbol “points at” the smaller value?

… Or Equal To …

Sometimes you know that a value is smaller, but may also be equal to!

 4Example, a jug can hold up to 4 cups of water.So how much water is in it?

Until you measure it, all you can say is “less than or equal to” 4 cups.


To show this, we add an extra line at the bottom of the “less than” or “greater than” symbol like this:

The “less than or equal to” sign:

The “greater than or equal to” sign:

As well as the familiar equals sign (=) it is also very useful to show if something is not equal to (≠) greater than (>) or less than (<)

These are the important signs to know:


When two values are equal
we use the “equals” sign

example: 2+2 = 4

When two values are definitely not equal
we use the “not equal to” sign

example: 2+2 ≠ 9

But when one value is smaller than another
we use a “less than” sign

example: 3 < 5

And when one value is bigger than another
we use a “greater than” sign

example: 9 > 6

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