Subtracting Mixed Numbers

When subtracting mixed numbers, there are a number of fraction skills being used.  Your elementary grade student must be proficient at these skills to have success with other fraction topics and Algebra in the future.

Your child must:

  1. Know exactly what a Mixed Number is.
  2. Must be proficient at Subtracting Fractions
  3. Be confident converting mixed numbers to Improper Fractions
  4. Be able to find a Common Denominator with ease.

Get Prepared For Summer.

It's time to start gathering the materials you need to help your child slow down or stop the Math Summer Slide. Start with this resource of daily math facts practice.

Once you are confident your child is comfortable with these skills, it's time to explore subtracting mixed numbers.

Below I work through a specific example, showing you what happens each step of the way.  I also include the algebraic version of what is happening.  Knowledge of this is not expected at the elementary level, but it's fun!

Subtraction problem.

Represent whole numbers as improper fractions using the denominator of their attached fractions.

Tidy up by adding what you can.

Find Common Denominator

By finding the common denominator convert both fractions to their equivalent fractions with the same denominator.

We can now subtract the fractions. If your result is an improper fraction, convert it to a mixed number.

Write answer as a mixed number if required.


As you can see, the process of subtracting mixed numbers is not that difficult, however, if your child struggles with the more basic skills as listed above, this will be a nightmare for them.  Don't ever trade moving mastering each skill, simply to move forward quickly. It just wont work out well for you. 

Don't forget to practice!  You can find lot's of practice sheets in the printable fraction worksheets section.

Move from subtracting mixed numbers to printable math worksheets home page, to explore more of the great material I have for you.

If you need to brush up on any of the basic mathematics involved in calculating with fractions, head to our fractions section.

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