We have four possible inequality signs to choose from: <, >, ≤, and ≥. There's also the slightly less popular ^, which means that everything below is greater than everything above, but that brings us into a touchy area, spiritually speaking. Translating English into one of these symbols is a matter of common sense. Good thing you have some of that.
The signs < and > are usually straightforward.
- "Three is less than x'' can be abbreviated by 3 < x.
- "5 is more than x'' can be written in symbols as 5 > x.
When we're translating into statements that use ≤ or ≥, we have a slightly wider range of English phrases to use. For example, each of the following English statements translates into symbols as x ≤ 20.
- x is less than or equal to twenty.
- x is at most twenty.
- x is not more than twenty.
- x is not greater than twenty.
- Twenty could be more than x, or it could be exactly as much as x. You'll never know. Na-nana-boo-boo.
Each of these following English statements translates into symbols as x ≥ 0.
- x is greater than or equal to zero.
- x is not less than zero.
- x is not smaller than zero.
- x is at least zero.