Negative numbers

You will be familiar with the use of negative numbers in some circumstances in your everyday life. Let’s take a look at some practical examples.

Example 1

At a meat factory the thermometers on the doors of two freezer rooms show the following temperatures in degrees Celsius. Which room is colder?


Room 1 is colder because the thermometer reads -25 °C (25 degrees Celsius below freezing) in Room 1 and only -20 °C (20 degrees below freezing) in Room 2.

Negative numbers

Example 2

Jake and his brother Joshua have received their bank statements in the post this morning. Whose bank statement looks the healthiest

Jake’s balance reads £5000 DR 

Joshua’s balance reads £3500


Joshua has £3,500 in his bank account, whereas the DR symbol on Jake’s statement indicates that Jake is £5000 in debt. So Joshua’s statement is the healthiest.

A debt is an example of a negative number. If Jake is £5000 in debt, we could say his balance is -£5000.