We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
GO TO SAT PREP GO TO ACT PREP
Algebra Introduction

Algebra Introduction

At a Glance - Distributive Property

This video shows the distributive property in action on a slightly advanced problem.

Officially, we use the distributive property to multiply binomials. If you need a quick refresher (or introduction) to binomials, those are expressions that consist of two terms. You know, as in "a + b" or "Mike + Brittney 4EVA." We’ll go with the first example, since we found the second one carved into the side of a maple tree and we’re not actually sure if it’s public domain.

If you want to multiply a + b and c + d, the distributive property tells you how to do exactly that. All we need to do is multiply a by both letters in the second term, then multiply b by everything in the second term. That sounds kind of abstract, so here's what we mean:

(a + b)(c + d) =
a
(c + d) + b(c + d) =
ac +ad + bc + bd

That may not look too helpful right now, but this thing will be a lifesaver once you’ve got a problem with a few numbers to plug in. A cherry-flavored lifesaver.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement