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How to Solve Addition Problems

In this post, we are going to learn to analyze, think about, and solve addition problems. Usually, failure in mathematics comes from not understanding the problems that we are given. This is why we are going to analyze 5 problems which require addition to solve.

Addition Problems nº 1

There were 8 cars in the parking lot of a hotel. 5 more cars have entered the parking lot. How many cars are in the parking lot now?

This is the simplest type of problem that we can encounter: it is a short statement, with only 2 facts which have the same units: 8 cars and 5 cars. Now the only thing left for us to think about is what operation we have to do. To do this, we are going to think about if in the beginning there were 8 cars and later 5 more cars enter the parking lot, are there now more or fewer cars than in the beginning? The answer to this question is that there are now more cars than in the beginning. Therefore, the operation that we need to do is ADDITION.


Now there are 13 cars in the parking lot.

Addition Problems nº 2

The walls of Catherine’s class are full of drawings! Today I went to see the class and on the wall to the right, I counted 5 drawings and on the wall to the left 7 more. How many drawings in total are there on the walls of Catherine’s class?

Although this problem is simple, it is a little more complicated than the previous problem because it is longer, but it only has 2 facts which also have the same units: 5 drawings and 7 drawings. Before thinking about the operation that we have to do, we are going to reason through the statement: in order to count how many drawings there are in total, we could collect them and put them all on the same wall and then count them. The number that we would obtain would be greater than 5 and greater than 7 too. Thus, the operation we have to use is ADDITION.


There are 12 drawings in total.

Addition Problems nº 3

Mary has 4 candies that her grandmother gave to her when she was visiting. Richard has 2 more candies than Mary because he bought some and later realized that he had more in his house. How many candies does Richard have?

In this problem, we have to compare two quantities: Mary has 4 candies and Richard has 2 more candies than Mary. Let’s think. Does Richard have more or fewer candies than Mary? If Richard has 2 candies more than Mary, this means that he has more candies. So the operation that we need to carry out is ADDITION.


Richard has 6 candies.

Addition Problems nº 4

Yesterday many kids went to eat breakfast in the school dining hall and drank all the juice. If they had served 5 liters less of juice yesterday, they would have served as many liters as they did today. Today they served 6 liters of juice. How many liters of juice did they serve yesterday?

In this problem we have to match two quantities: today they served 6 liters of juice and yesterday if they had served 5 liters less, they would have served the same amount of liters as today. We have to decide whether they served more or less juice yesterday than today. As we are told that to match today’s quantity they would have had to serve 5 liters less, we deduce that yesterday they served more liters than today. Thus, the operation that we have to use is ADDITION.


Yesterday they served 11 liters of juice.

Addition Problems nº 5

During recess, I’ve been playing marbles with 4 friends. Since I have been careless, I have lost 3 marbles and now I am left with 6 marbles. How many marbles did I have before I began to play?

In this problem, we have 3 numerical facts: 4 friends, 3 marbles and 6 marbles. But be careful! Not all the facts help solve the problem. In this case, the number of friends that I have does not influence the number of marbles I had. So this fact is not relevant to the solution of the problem. We focus on the facts that interest us: I have lost 3 marbles and now I have 6 left. We have to reflect on the following question: before beginning to play did I have more or fewer marbles than I have now? If I lost marbles during the game, it means that I had more marbles before than I have now, so the operation we have to use is ADDITION.


Before playing, I had 9 marbles.

And that’s all for today’s post. We hope that you have enjoyed and learned from this post.

Next week we will continue with another post about problems.

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Diane Ackerman
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