Chapter 6—Expressions and Equations

6-4 Using the Distributive Property

When you complete the work for this section, you should be able to:
  • Describe the distributive property for multiplication and addition.
  • Demonstrate how to use the distributive property

Distributive Property What It Is, How to Use It.


The distributive property shows the relationship between the product of one term times the sum of two terms, a(b + c).

a(b + c) = ab + ac

where a, b, and c are real numbers.

The distributive property applies to expressions such as 3(5x + y). To apply the property, simply multiply the outside factor, 3,  times each of the inside terms, 5x and y. The result is 3(5x + y) = 15x + 3y.


Step 1: Multiply the outside factor by the first inside term.
Step 2: Multiply the outside factor by the second inside term.
Step 3: Combine the results.



Examples & Exercises

Use these interactive Examples & Exercises to strengthen your understanding and build your skills. Continue working the problems until you can do them consistently without error.:

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015