Expression vs. Equation

Difference Between Expression and Equation

The expression and the equation are common mathematical terms. Both the terms are fundamental to understanding various core concepts in mathematics. But, if you were to ask the difference between an expression and an equation to a maths student, you will most probably not receive a definitive answer. Both the concepts use variables and numbers. Nevertheless, there is a difference in their arrangement. This article will highlight the differences between the expression and the equation and make it easier to distinguish between the two.

An equation is a sentence, while, an expression is a phrase. For example, ‘Ten is four less than a certain number’ is an equation that can be represented by a formula.

10 = x-4.

On the other hand, ‘less than four’ is an expression.

Suppose, you are given an expression A+2A, you cannot distinguish anything unless you know the value of the variable A. So while a 2A is just an expression, a = 2A and A+2A=3A is the equation.

An equation can be defined as a combination of two expressions separated by a equals sign, which implies that the two expressions are equal. For example x-4 = 5 means x can have only one value, 9.

An expression can be evaluated, but an equation can be solved. An expression is a mathematical statement that is incomplete. An expression cannot have a solution.

If we speak in terms of language, then equation looks like a complete sentence, while an expression is an incomplete sentence, or a phrase. If there is any confusion in identifying an equation from an expression, then finding the equal sign will remove all doubts. Equations involve relationships, it is therefore, easy to identify a mathematical equation. Therefore, an equation has to be solved it to reach an answer, while you only need to evaluate an expression.


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