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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.