English in Mathematics (Part 3)


A fraction (from Latin: fractus, “broken”) represents a part of a whole or, more generally, any number of equal parts. When spoken in everyday English, we specify how many parts of a certain size there are, for example, one-half, five-eighths and three-quarters.

A common or “vulgar” fraction, such as 1/2, 5/8, 3/4, etc., consists of a numerator and a denominator—the numerator representing a number of equal parts and the denominator indicating how many of those parts make up a whole. An example is 3/4, in which the numerator, 3, tells us that the fraction represents 3 equal parts, and the denominator, 4, tells us that 4 parts equal a whole.[1] The picture to the right illustrates 3/4 of a cake.

Now, let us learn how to read a fraction:

Based on the picture, we have 3/4 part of cake left, we read out 3/4 by three over four or three fourth. Let us learn from another example: 1/4 is read one over four or one fourth, 6/11 is read six over eleven. We sometimes find that people say a quarter. It is a special term used to express 1/4, therefore, we read 2/4 by two quarters and 3/4 by three quarters.

There are some types of Fraction:

  • Proper Fraction is a fraction where the numerator < the denominator, or in Bahasa we know it as Pecahan Sempurna.

                                e.g. 3/4, 5/9, 9/17

  • Improper Fraction is a fraction where the numerator > the denominator, or in Bahasa we know it as Pecahan Tak Sempurna

                               e.g. 4/3, 9/5, 17/9

  • Mixed Numbers or Mixed Fraction is a fraction contained a whole number part and fractional part, or in Bahasa we know it as Pecahan Campuran.

                               e.g.    (read: “two, three over four” or “two, three quarters”)

  • Complex Fraction is a fraction where either the numerator, or the denominator, or both, includes a fraction.[2]

                              e.g. and

  • A compound fraction is a fraction of a fraction, or any number of fractions connected with the word of. [3] It corresponds to multiplication of fractions.

                             e.g.   of  \tfrac{5}{7}  is a compound fraction, corresponding to

  • Equivalent Fraction are fraction that are of the same value. We either multiply or divide both the numerator and denominator of a fraction by the same number to find the equivalent fraction.[4]

                             e.g.    and  

[1] Weisstein, Eric W.. “Common Fraction”. Retrieved Sep 30, 2011.

[2] Trotter, James (1853). A complete system of arithmetic. p. 65.

[4] Roza, Yenita dan Arisman Adnan. 2006. English for Basic Mathematics. Cendikia Insani Pekanbaru.


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