Helpful Math Clue Words

Solving word problems is tough if you don't know these important math clue words. Mathematics is a language: you have to be able to translate words into equations and expressions.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but the keywords listed in the tables below almost always translate to the given symbol. All the “math clue words” are separated by a black dot ●.  

Words that Translate to Arithmetic Symbols



added to increased by ● more than ●


● subtracted by ● decreased by ● less than ●


● multiplied by


● divided by ●

Equality and Inequalities



● equal to ● the same amount as ● costs ● is the same as ●


● less than ● fewer than

● less than or equal to ● no more than ●


● greater than ● more than ●

● greater than or equal to ● no less than ●

Writing Equations in Slope-Intercept Form

Slope-intercept form is given as y = mx +b, where m is the slope and b is the y-intercept. The slope is multiplied by the variable – we sometimes say that we “attach” that number to the variable.



● rate of change ● per each ● for every ●
look for a value that happens often – like monthly payment ●


● look for a value that happens only once – like a membership fee

More free help in pre-algebra and algebra.

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