### There are 3 simple steps to subtract fractions

• Step 1. Make sure the bottom numbers (the denominators) are the same
• Step 2. Subtract the top numbers (the numerators). Put the answer over the same denominator.
• Step 3. Simplify the fraction (if needed).

### Example 1:

3Â 4Â âˆ’Â 1Â 4

Step 1. The bottom numbers are already the same. Go straight to step 2.

Step 2. Subtract the top numbers and put the answer over the same denominator:

3Â 4Â âˆ’Â 1Â 4Â Â  = Â Â 3 âˆ’ 1Â 4Â Â  = Â Â 2Â 4

Step 3
. Simplify the fraction:

2Â 4Â =Â 1Â 2

(If you are unsure of the last step seeÂ Equivalent Fractions.)

### Example 2:

1Â 2Â âˆ’Â 1Â 6

Step 1. The bottom numbers are different. See how the slices are different sizes? We need to make them the same before we can continue, because weÂ can’tÂ subtract them like this:

 1Â 2 âˆ’ 1Â 6 = ?

To make the bottom numbers the same, multiply the top and bottom of the first fraction (1/2) byÂ 3Â like this:

 Ã— 3
 Ã— 3

And now our question looks like this:

The bottom numbers (the denominators) are the same, so we can go to step 2.

Step 2. Subtract the top numbers and put the answer over the same denominator:

3Â 6Â âˆ’Â 1Â 6Â Â  = Â Â 3 âˆ’ 1Â 6Â Â  = Â Â 2Â 6

In picture form it looks like this:

 3Â 6 âˆ’ 1Â 6 = 2Â 6

Step 3. Simplify the fraction:

2Â 6Â =Â 1Â 3

### With Pen and Paper

And here is how to do it with a pen and paper (press the play button):

## Subtracting Mixed Fractions

I have a special page onÂ Adding and Subtracting Mixed Fractions.

## Making the Denominators the Same

In the previous example it was easy to make the denominators the same, but it can be harder … so you may need to use either the

### Example: Cupcakes

You want to sell cupcakes at a market:

• You get paidÂ 2Â 5Â of total sales
• But you have to payÂ 1Â 4Â of total sales for the stall

How much do you get?

We need to subtractÂ 1Â 4Â fromÂ 2Â 5

2Â 5Â âˆ’Â 1Â 4Â Â  = Â Â ?Â ?

FirstÂ make the bottom numbers (the denominators) the same.

Multiply top and bottom ofÂ 2/5Â byÂ 4:

2 Ã— 4Â 5 Ã— 4Â âˆ’Â 1Â 4Â Â  = Â Â ?Â ?

And multiply top and bottom ofÂ 1/4Â byÂ 5:

2 Ã— 4Â 5 Ã— 4Â âˆ’Â 1 Ã— 5Â 4 Ã— 5Â Â  = Â Â ?Â ?

NowÂ do the calculations:

8Â 20Â âˆ’Â 5Â 20Â Â  = Â Â 8 âˆ’ 5Â 20Â Â  = Â Â 3Â 20

Answer: you get to keepÂ 3Â 20Â of total sales.