Fractions in Real Life

Published: 10th April 2009
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Introduction

The term 'fraction' is from the Latin word 'fractus' meaning 'broken'.

A fraction is a broken number that represents a part or parts of something considered as a whole.

1/6, 2/8, 3/5, 11/15, 34/79, 121/197-are some examples of fractions.

In a fraction, the top number called the 'numerator' represents the part and the bottom number called the 'denominator' represents the whole.

In the fractions mentioned above, 1, 2, 3, 11, 34, 121 are the 'numerators' and 6, 8, 5, 15, 79, 197 are the 'denominators'.

Types of fractions

The following are the three different types of fractions.

1. Proper fractions

2. Improper fractions

3. Mixed numbers

Proper fraction

In a 'proper fraction' the numerator (top number) is less than its denominator (bottom number). Examples: 2/5, 7/9, 101/120 etc.

Improper fraction

In an 'improper fraction' the numerator (top number) is greater than or equal to the denominator (bottom number). Examples: 4/3, 7/4, 11/10, 5/5, 213/188 etc.

Mixed number

A 'mixed number' is a whole number and a proper fraction combined. Examples: 1 1/3, 4 1/5, 7 3/4, 100 6/7 etc.

Fractions in Real Life Situations

Everyday, without even noticing it, we use fractions. We use fractions when sharing food e.g. pizza, pies, fruits etc. The following are some examples of fractions in real life situations.

Example 1

Suppose you have just 1 apple at home and you want to share it with your brother. What do you do? You cut the apple into halves to share it between the 2 of you. Each one gets half or 1/2 of an apple.

Example 2

Now say you have 7 friends come over. You ordered a large pizza and you wanted to share it with 7 of your friends. How much will each one get?

There are 8 people...so you cut the pizza into 8 equal slices and each one gets one slice. Each one gets one-eighth or 1/8 of the pizza.

Example 3

Knowing fractions makes a chef's life easier. In most recipes, a chef measures ingredients that are in fractional parts, like 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2/3 tablespoon of vanilla extract, 4 1/3 cups of flour etc.

If a chef doesn't measure correctly or figure out just how much of an ingredient need to be added to the recipe, then the food he/she makes won't taste very good.

Here are a couple of recipes with lots of nice fractions:

Sugar Cookie Recipe

• 1/3 cup butter

• 1/3 cup butter shortening

• 3/4 cup granulated sugar

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/8 teaspoon salt

• 1 large egg

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 2 cups all purpose flour

• Frostings and candies for decorating if desired

Dark Chocolate Brownie Recipe

• 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

• 4 ounces butter

• 4 large eggs

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

• 1 cup chopped walnuts

Example 4

A shiny ribbon bow makes a gift-wrapped present look special. Sara wanted to tie 4 Christmas gifts with silver ribbon. She bought 3 yards of silver ribbon to make 4 silver bows of equal length.

Sara has to first figure out the amount of ribbon it takes to make 1 bow. Once the length is known, she can use a ruler to measure and then cut them into equal pieces.

3 yards of ribbon for 4 bows

1 1/2 yards of ribbon for 2 bows
3/4 of a yard of ribbon for 1 bow

So, Sara will need three-fourths or 3/4 of a yard of ribbon to make 1 bow.
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I'm Chandrajeet, an in-house writer for iCoachMath. iCoachMath is an effective, convenient, easy-to-use online Math Program which has been used by thousands of students, teachers, and parents.iCoachMath strives to lead K-12 students to excellence in math by offering quality web-based educational solutions. iCoachMath's instructional and lesson materials are aligned to State Curriculum Standards in all 50 states (USA).
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