Basic Subtraction Rules and Methods | Learning Concepts
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Operations on Numbers


We use subtraction to find the difference between numbers or when we take out/away some objects and want to find out remaining objects.


Suppose we have 5 mangoes, and we cut and eat 3 mangoes. To find the number of remaining mangoes, we need to do subtraction.

G1_1_Subtraction_plate of mangos
  • In subtraction, we take away part of some amount.
  • In subtraction, we subtract the smaller number from the bigger one.
  • We subtract numbers using the symbol ‘-’, called ‘minus’.


  • We do subtraction horizontally as well as vertically.
  • The larger number is called the minuend.
  • The smaller number is called the subtrahend.
  • The resultant number is called the Difference.

Read as: 9 minus 5 is equal to 4.

Subtraction of one-digit numbers

We can do subtraction in so many ways.

  1. By using fingers
  2. G1_3_Subtraction_hands

    We can use our hand fingers to do the subtraction. Let’s see.


    Nisha has eight chocolates. She gives 3 chocolates to Sameer. Now, we need to find Nisha’s remaining number of chocolates.

    First method:

    Step 1: For eight chocolates open eight fingers.


    Step 2: To subtract three chocolates close three fingers from the open fingers.


    Step 3: Now count all the open fingers together.


    So, we got the number 5.

    Nisha has 5 chocolates remaining.


    Second method:

    For subtracting 3 from 8, count the numbers after the number 3 to the number 8 and open the fingers as well.


    We got 5 fingers. So, the correct answer is 5 chocolates.

  3. By using counters
  4. Counters: In this method, we draw counters to represent numbers. Each counter (object or shape) represents a number.


    Question: 4-1= ?


    Step 1: For the number 4 draw four circles.


    Step 2: To subtract 1 cross the one circle.

    G1_11_subtraction_ circle

    Now, count the remaining circles.

    G1_12_subtraction_ circle

    There are 3 circles remaining.

    So, the correct answer is

    4-1= 3

  5. By using a number line
  6. Number line: A straight line on which numbers are placed at the same distance and in the correct order. Numbers are placed from left to right.

    G1_13_Subtraction_Number line

    We can do subtraction by using number line.


    Question: 10-6= ?

    Answer:Draw a line and mark the numbers to 10 or more.

    G1_14_Substraction_number line

    Now, to subtract 6 from 10, move six steps backward to the left side from 10.

    G1_15_Substraction_number line

    You will reach at 4. So, the correct answer is:

    10-6= 4

  7. Do mentally
  8. We can do subtraction by counting mentally.


    Question: 7-3= ?

    Answer:Think about the number 7. Count 3 steps backward from 7. You will get 4.

    G1_16_Substraction_ thinking girl

    So, 7 – 3 = 4.

Subtraction Facts

  1. When we subtract 0 from a number, the answer is the number itself.
  2. 1 – 0 = 1, 5 – 0 = 5, 9 – 0 = 9

  3. When we subtract 1 from a number, the answer is the number that comes just before the minuend.
  4. 5 -1 = 4, 7 – 1 = 6, 9 – 1 =

Missing numerals in subtraction:

Type 1:

G1_17_Substraction_ minus

Here, we can take any two numbers whose difference is 5.




There are so many possible answers for this question.

Type 2:


Here, we need to find the number which difference from 2 is 3.

Add the numbers 2 and 3.


So, the correct answer is:


Word Problems

Step 1: Identify the numbers in the word problem which need to be subtracted.

Step 2: Write the word problem in the form of subtraction sentence.

Step 3: Do the subtraction and find out the difference.


Question: 7 sparrows were sitting on a tree. 6 sparrows flew away. How many sparrows were now sitting on the tree?

Answer: The numbers to be subtracted are 7 and 6.


Therefore, only 1 sparrow sitting on the tree.


G1_22_subtraction_did you know

G1_23_Substraction_mind map
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