Is two less than, equal to, or
greater than one?
In this problem, we’re given two
numbers. One of them is written as a
numeral, and the other is written as a word. These numbers are two and one. We’re being asked to compare
them. We need to choose which one of
these three symbols belongs in between the two numbers. In order to be able to compare the
numbers, we need to understand what each of the three symbols means. So let’s go through them one by
Out of the three symbols, perhaps
the two that are trickiest to remember are the two that are similar to arrows. This might be because we use the
equal sign a lot more often. Or it could be because the arrows
look so similar. It’s easy to confuse them. So let’s remind ourselves what each
symbol means. Firstly, it’s important to remember
that when we compare two numbers, we always read comparison statements from left to
So when we look at the first symbol
from left to right, we can see that the part on the left is narrower than the part
on the right. If you can imagine making two
little towers of cubes and putting them inside the symbol. Less cubes would fit on the left of
the symbol than on the right. So if we were to read this symbol
from left to right, it represents the statement “is less than”.
The second symbol is the opposite
way around. Reading it from left to right, we
can see that the wider part of the symbol is on the left this time and the narrower
part is on the right. Again, a good way of remembering
what this symbol means is to imagine our towers of cubes. This time, we can see that more
cubes fit on the left than on the right. So the number on the left is
greater than the number on the right.
Of course, we already know that the
equal sign represents “is the same as”. Interestingly, we could still use
our tower-of-cubes idea to show that both sides of an equal symbol are exactly the
same. Which of these symbols belongs in
between two and one? Remember, we always read our
statement from left to right. Should we say two is less than one,
two is greater than one, or two is the same as one?
Let’s build two towers of cubes to
prove which number is greater, a tower of two cubes and a tower of one cube. The tower of two cubes is taller
than the tower of one cube. So we’ve proved that two is greater
than one. So now we know which of our three
symbols to write in between the two numbers. Two is greater than one.