Is 4204 less than, equal to, or greater than 4204?
This is the sort of question that you might be able to see what the answer is straightaway. But it is important that we ask questions like this. There are always three possible symbols when we compare numbers like this. And so, it’s important that we practice using all three of them. Let’s remind ourselves what each symbol means.
Remember that with these symbols that look a little bit like arrows, the wider part of the symbol always points towards the larger number. Good way to remember this is that we could fit more counters in the wider part than in the narrow part. We always read these symbols across from left to right. So, this means the smaller number will come first and the larger number second. So, the first number is less than the second. This symbol means is less than.
And so, if the symbol points in the opposite direction, remember, the wide part must be pointing to the greater number, so the first number must be larger than the second. So, we use this symbol to show that the first number is greater than the second. And of course, we used the equal symbol to show that the numbers either side of the symbol are worth the same. So, although we can probably spot what the answer’s going to be, let’s compare our two numbers anyway.
Our first number contains four 1000s. And if we look across at our second number, this also has four 1000s. Now, let’s compare the hundreds digits. There are two 100s in our first number and also in our second. So far, our numbers are the same. Looking at the tens digits, there are no 10s in our first number and also zero in the tens place in our second number too.
Finally, there are four ones in our first number. And no doubt, we noticed already there are also four ones in our second number. As we’d have heard when the question was read out to us, their numbers are exactly the same. 4204 is equal to, or is the same as, 4204. Of course, it is. The correct symbol to use when comparing these two numbers is the equal sign.