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

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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.”