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Distributing Variables

A variable can be distributed into a set of parentheses just as we distributed a negative sign or a number. Consider the following example.

x(y + 1)

We can now apply the distributive property to the expression by multiplying each term inside the parentheses by x.

x * y + x * 1

Now simplifying the multiplication, we get a final answer of

xy + x

The same is true when a problem consists of a number, variables, and parentheses:

4x(x2 + 9)

Again, multiply each term inside the parentheses by the multiplier outside the parentheses.

4x * x2 + 4x * 9

Then simplify

4x3 + 36x

The next page has several resources including worksheets and related calculators.


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