# Addition and Subtraction Word Problems – 14 Types!

There are several different types of word problem that students may encounter. For each of the different types there can be further differences. For example, in word problems involving the change in amounts, the starting amount, or the final amount, or the amount of change itself can be unknown.

It is important that students learn to solve all these different types of problem as this will demonstrate a full understanding of the meaning of the addition and subtraction operations. Practice with lots of examples is needed but this should be done after starting with plenty of hands-on activities with concrete materials.

The table below shows examples of these different types of addition and subtraction problems. Note: The table is based on The Common Addition and Subtraction Situations in the Common Core Standards For Mathematics (P.88)

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This premium worksheet bundle contains 10 activities to challenge your students and help them understand Word Problems on Addition and Subtraction of Numbers. ## Addition and Subtraction Vocabulary and Language

Being able to solve each type of problem described above requires students to master the vocabulary of addition and subtraction. e.g. how many in total, altogether, combined, more than, difference, how many are needed.

Solving word problems both relies on and develops reading and language skills. Be aware of your children's reading level and use the opportunity to build these skills as you work and discuss the problems. Help your children to identify and comprehend the key words and terms within a problem. The table below contains just a few examples.

### Key words and terms for adding and subtracting

Allow your children as much time and give support and encouragement to help them interpret the problem. Work with them to understand the problem and determine the arithmetic operation required so that it can be translated into an addition or subtraction equation.

Be precise when discussing problems and look out for problems that are poorly worded. For example, “Jack has 7 console games and Sam has 4 console games. How many do they have altogether?” would be better worded as “Jack has 7 console games and Sam has 4 console games. How many console games do they have altogether?”

### When more does not mean add

Students look for verbal clues when solving word problems. “More” usually (but not always) suggests addition and “less” usually (but not always) suggests subtraction. Look out for problems where these words suggest the opposite of what they usually do. For example, “The Green Team had 14 players which was 2 more than the Red Team. How many players were on the Red Team.” Students who can interpret this as 14 - 2 = 12 are well on their way to understanding addition and subtraction.

## Errors made with word problems

The following is based on work by Anne Newman1 .

Errors that students make in word problems can be categorized under one of five types:

• Comprehension  – failure to understand either the whole problem or specific parts of it
• Transformation  – incorrect identification of the operations required to solve the problem
• Procedural or fact - incorrect calculation
• Encoding - solution is found but not correctly or fully stated

Asking students to do, or answer, the following helps identify which type of error they are making: