Operation under which each pair of numbers, called the terms of the subtraction, is made to correspond to a new number called the difference of these terms.

We can define a subtraction operation in different sets such as number sets, relationship sets, geometric figure sets, etc.

The inverse operation of subtraction is addition.


The symbol for subtraction is – which is read as: “minus”.


  • Subtraction is not always defined in the set of whole numbers.
  • In fact: 8 – 12 = –4, which is not a whole number.
  • Subtraction is not a commutative operation: 5 – 8 ≠ 8 – 5.


Consider this subtraction: 84 – 45 = 39.
The numbers 84 and 45 are the terms of the subtraction.
The number 39 is the difference.

84 45 = 39
term term difference
minus is equal to

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