What are Numerators and Denominators?

Learn a quick tip to help you understand exactly what the numerator and denominator of a fraction tell you.

Jason Marshall, PhD,
March 25, 2010
Episode #011

Page 1 of 5

In the last article, we discovered that integers alone are not sufficient to fully describe the world around us—we need the fractions existing between the integers too. (In learning that, we also learned that fractions are not integers.) In fact, eventually we’re going to discover that even fractions won’t fully satisfy our needs! But we’ll leave that for a future article—there’s still much to learn about the fractional world first.

In particular, today we’re going to take a deeper look at fractions and learn a few quick tips to help you understand exactly what numerators and denominators tell you.

What Are Fractions?

Before we get too far into the details of what the various parts of a fraction mean, let’s briefly review their anatomy. First, a fraction is made up of two integers—one on the top, and one on the bottom.

The top one is called the numerator, the bottom one is called the denominator, and these two numbers are separated by a line. The line can be horizontal or slanted—they both mean the same thing and simply serve to separate the numerator from the denominator.


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