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Another type of number sentence used in algebra is called an inequality. An inquality is used when we don't know exactly what an expression is equal to. Instead of an equals sign, we can use one of these symbols:

> greater than
< less than
< less than or equal to
> greater than or equal to

It takes practice to translate a word problem into an inequality, just as it does to translate a problem into an equation. Let's practice now.

Example 1.

A number minus 4 is greater than 2.

The words "a number" tell us that we need a variable in our inequality, and that the result of the variable less "4" is more than 2. We can write it like this:

n - 4 > 2

Let's try one more example.

Example 2.

The sum of x and 5 is less than or equal to -2.

The words "the sum of" give us a clue that our inequality will involve addition. We can write the inequality like this:

x + 5 < -2

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Writing inequalities