Problem Solving on Subtraction

Problem solving on subtraction will help us to get the idea on how to solve the basic subtraction statement problems.

1.  Eight birds sat on a wire. Three birds flew away. How many were left?

Total number of birds sat on a wire = 8

Number of birds flew away = 3

Therefore, number of birds left = 8 - 3 = 5

2.  Sam had 7 dollars. He spent 4 dollars. How many dollars is he left with?

Total amount of money Sam had = $7

He spent = $4

Therefore, amount of money left with him = $7 - $4 = $3

3. Five boats were tied up. Four of the boats sailed away. How many were left?

Total number of boats tied up = 5

Number of boats sailed away = 4

Therefore, number of boats were left = 5 - 4 = 1

4. Ron had 10 stamps. His father took 2 stamps. How many stamps does Ron have now?

Total number of stamps Ron had = 10

Number of stamps his father took = 2

Therefore, number of stamps he have now = 10 - 2 = 8

5. Diana had 18 toffees. She gave 5 toffees to her friend. How many toffees left with her?

Total number of toffees Diana had = 18

Number of toffees she gave to her friend = 5

Therefore, number of toffees left = 18 - 5 = 13

More examples on statement problem solving on subtraction:

6. Mr. Daniel had 39 goats in a pasture. When he opened the pasture gate, 13 goats went out. How many goats remained in? 

Total number of goats in a pasture Mr. Daniel had = 39

Number of goats went out = 13

Therefore, number of goats remained in = 39 - 13 = 26

7. Derek’s father is 47 years old. His mother is 35 years old. What is the difference of their ages?

Age of Derek’s father = 47 years

Age of his mother = 35 years

Therefore, difference of their ages = 47 - 35 = 12 years

2nd Grade Math Practice From Problem Solving on Subtraction to HOME PAGE

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Subtraction Word Problems

These lessons look at simple examples of subtraction word problems.

Related Pages More Lessons for Arithmetic Math Worksheets

Words like ‘difference’, ‘less’, ‘take away’, ‘loss’ usually means that subtraction is involved.

For subtraction, take note which number has to be subtracted from which number. Subtracting in the wrong order will give you the wrong answer.

Example: Andy has 53 marbles. Sam has 105 marbles and lost 8 when his bag of marbles dropped. Find the difference between the number of marbles that Sam has left and Andy’s.

Solution: [Sam has 105 marbles] – [8 lost] – [Andy has 53 marbles]

105 – 8 – 53 = 44 marbles

Examples of subtraction word problems

  • John has 12 apples, and he gives away 5 of them. How many apples does he have left?
  • What is the difference between 17 and 38?
  • Jennifer has eighteen apples, and Mike has twelve. How many more apples does Jennifer have than Mike?

Subtraction Word Problem

Example: A farmer grows 531 tomatoes and is able to sell 176 of them in three days. Given that his supply of tomatoes decreases by 176, how many tomatoes does he have remaining at the end of the three days?

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Subtraction Word Problems — Examples & Practice - Expii

Subtraction word problems — examples & practice, explanations (3).

problem solving subtraction examples

Words to Math: Subtraction

In this section, we will learn to translate phrases into a mathematical expression by identifying key words that indicate subtraction .

When talking about subtraction, you will most likely see the terms " subtract ", " less than ", " minus ", " difference ", and " decreased by ". There are different such terms for addition , multiplication , and division .

Let’s take a look at an example.

Sam has 6 pencils. His friend, Jack, has 3 pencils less than Sam. How many pencils does Jack have?

We know that the term " less than " often refers to subtraction, so the operator ‘−’ is required.

Since Sam has 6 pencils and Jack had 3 less than Sam, we can rewrite this as a mathematical expression.

Jack = Sam (6 Pencils) − 3 Pencils = 3 Pencils

Image source: By Clker-Free-Vector-Images [CC0](, via [](

When talking about equality, you will most likely see the terms " equal to ", " is ", " the same as ", and " amounts to ".

Here are some phrases about subtraction translated into a mathematical expression.

  • 2 less than 6 is 4→6−2=4
  • 13 minus 1 equals to 12→13−1=12
  • The difference between 10 and 7 is 3→10−7=3

This technique is useful for solving equations too. In that case, we're subtracting the same number from both sides of an equation.

We are now going to take a look at some of the types of problems you might encounter about subtraction word problems.

Example 1 Translate the following into a mathematical expression: 15 minus 8 is 7.

Related Lessons

Word problems with subtraction.

The key to solving word problems is to translate them into mathematical expressions. This is made easier if you can pick out key phrases that tell you what type of operation the problem is asking for. We'll call these signal words .

Signal words for subtraction include: minus, fewer, remain, less, left, take away

Image source: By OpenClipartVectors CC0 , via

Which subtraction signal word is included in this word problem?

(Video) Writing an Algebraic Expression from a Word Problem

by mrmaisonet

problem solving subtraction examples

This video by mrmaisonet works through a few word problem examples with an identification of key words.

The problem he looks at is:

Katie has 12 fewer dollars than Julia has. If d equals the amount of money Julia has, write an expression for the amount of money Katie has.

Here d is a variable . Our expression will have the variable in it somewhere. The key phrase is 12 fewer. This means Katie has the same as Julia minus 12. Therefore, we can say Katie has: d−12


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  • Subtract 1-3 digits

Addition & Subtraction Workbook for Grades 2-3

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Subtraction word problems (1-3 digits)

Word problem worksheets: subtracting numbers below 1,000.

These word problems involve the subtraction of 1-3 digit numbers. The calculations are relatively simple, however we include irrelevant data to encourage students to read carefully.

problem solving subtraction examples

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