Basic Subtraction Rules and Methods | Learning Concepts
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Operations on Numbers

Subtraction for Class 1 Maths

Subtraction is taking away a number from another number provided that the first number is smaller than the second.
This learning concept introduces the concept of operation subtraction for class 1 students.

In this learning concept, the students will learn to

  • One digit subtraction
  • subtraction with counters
  • number line subtraction
  • mental subtraction tricks
  • subtraction facts
  • subtraction word problems

Each concept is explained to class 1 maths students with illustrations and examples, and a concept map is given to summarize the idea. At the end of the page, two printable worksheets with solutions are attached for students to practice.


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.

mango images
  • 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.
minuend and subtrahend

Read as: 9 minus 5 is equal to 4.

One Digit Subtraction

We can do subtraction in so many ways.

By using fingers

how many fingers in your hand

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.

fingers in your hand

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

fingers in your hand

Step 3: Now count all the open fingers together.

fingers in your hand

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.

Subtraction with Counters

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.

rough circle

Step 2: To subtract 1 cross the one circle.

rough circle

Now, count the remaining circles.

rough circle

There are 3 circles remaining.

So, the correct answer is

4-1= 3

Number Line Subtraction

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.

number line subtraction

We can do subtraction by using number line.


Question: 10-6= ?

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

number line subtraction

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

number line subtraction

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

10-6= 4

Mental Subtraction Tricks

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.

girl thinking images

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:


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:


Subtraction 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.

bird in a tree

Therefore, only 1 sparrow sitting on the tree.


G1_22_subtraction_did you know

G1_23_Substraction_mind map
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