math

Everyday Uses for Fractions

Certain topics you learn in school have obvious practical applications. For example, you use language every day. It is easy to understand how a good grasp of grammar will help you succeed in interviews, writing and communicating with others. The practicality of other subjects may seem more obscure, though. If you ever sat in math class learning fractions and wondered when you would ever use that information in real life, here is your answer.

Shopping

You walk into your favorite store and see a huge banner from across the room. It’s your lucky day, because those shoes you have been eyeing are on sale for 25% off. How do you know how much you are saving, though? Without fractions, you are going into the sale blind. You may get up to the counter and be sorely disappointed at the total amount due. To make a decision that fits your budget and helps you avoid the embarrassment of having to return something you can’t afford to the shelves, you need to know how to multiply fractions. If you understand that 25% and 1/4 are the same number, you can easily calculate how much the shoes will cost. It may be harder to multiply by .25 in your head than it is to multiply by 1/4 (that is, divide by 4). Fractions don’t just help you save money; they also help you figure out exactly how much you are saving.

Cooking

You decide to make your favorite recipe that your grandmother gave you for your significant other. As it is written, however, the recipe makes enough to feed your entire extended family and still have leftovers. As much as you enjoy the dish, you don’t want to have so much of it that you are eating it for a week. When you only need 1/3 of the amount the recipe makes, multiplying fractions is a skill that comes in handy.

Understanding how to simplify fractions can also help when you’re doubling a recipe. If you want to bring twice as many cupcakes to a party than the recipe makes, you multiply the ingredients by two. It seems simple enough, doesn’t it? When 3/8 of a teaspoon becomes 6/8, however, you are less likely to lose count of the number of scoops you add to the batter if you know you can simplify that number to 3/4.

Sharing

You go out to eat with a group of friends. Four of you are single, and two people bring their significant others along, bringing your total party number to 8. When the bill comes, you decide to divide it evenly. It sounds like easy math until you discover that one of the couples is paying together, and the other couple is covering another person in honor of her birthday. There’s no need to panic if you understand fractions. The first couple pays 1/4 of the bill, the second couple pays 3/8 of the bill, and the remaining three people each pay 1/8 of the bill.

Although it may not seem obvious when you’re sitting in math class, understanding fractions can be very useful. You may get a lot of opportunities to use fractions in your everyday life.


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