How to Subtract? A Beginner’s Guide

Subtraction is a fundamental math concept that involves taking away one quantity from another. It’s an essential skill that helps us perform everyday activities such as counting money, calculating change, and solving problems. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of subtraction and provide some helpful tips to make it easier for you.

Understanding Subtraction

Subtraction is the opposite of addition. While addition combines two or more numbers, subtraction separates them. For instance, if you have four candies and you eat one, you are left with three. In this case, four is the starting number or the minuend, one is the number being subtracted or the subtrahend, and three is the result or the difference.

The Subtraction Process

The process of subtraction involves three steps: identifying the minuend, identifying the subtrahend, and subtracting the subtrahend from the minuend. Let’s use the example above to illustrate this process.

Minuend: 4 Subtrahend: 1

To subtract 1 from 4, we start by lining up the numbers vertically. Then, we subtract the digits in the ones place (4 – 1 = 3). The difference is 3, so the answer is 3.

Tips for Subtraction

Subtraction can be challenging, but with practice, it becomes more manageable. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Use visual aids such as number lines, counters, or manipulatives to help you understand the concept better.
  2. Break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts.
  3. Practice, practice, practice! The more you practice, the easier subtraction will become.
  4. Check your work by adding the difference to the subtrahend. The sum should be equal to the minuend.


Subtraction is a vital math concept that you’ll encounter throughout your life. It’s essential to understand its basics and learn how to perform it correctly. With the tips and tricks we’ve provided, you can become a subtraction pro in no time! Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep practicing and mastering the art of subtraction.

With Khan Academy’s beginner’s guide, you’re on your way to becoming a math whiz. Happy subtracting!

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