In this video, we look at how to recognize like terms and unlike terms. Included are several examples to help avoid common mistakes. Algebra tiles are used to help visualize the terms.

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*(To practice this skill try playing “Like Terms Uno” found under “Practice.”)*

## How to Recognize Like and Unlike Terms

Before we can understand what like terms are we need to define what a term is.

A term is part of an expression that is separated by an addition or subtraction sign. In the expression $2x + 5x^2 + {^-4x}$, $2x$, $5x^2$, and ${^-4x}$ are all examples of terms.

When you have 2 or more terms with the same variable and the same exponents then they are considered to be “like terms”. In the example above, $2x$ and ${^-4x}$ are like terms.

Lets use the algebra tiles to look at other like terms:

You will notice that in all cases the variables and the exponents are the same.

Now lets use the algebra tiles to look at unlike terms:

None of these terms can be added together, because they are not like term (the variables and the exponents and not the same.)

#### Ok, so why is this important?

Well often in algebra you will be asked to simplify a problem

by combining like terms.

*To practice this skill try playing “Like Terms Uno” found under “Practice.”*