Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

If I have term -5 and I want to change its sign to opposite can I say that I'm negating its sign?

share|cite|improve this question
It isn't incorrect to say so. – J. M. Dec 10 '10 at 10:22
What's wrong with simply saying "changing the sign"? (And by the way, it's "its sign", not "it's sign".) – Hans Lundmark Dec 10 '10 at 11:10
Yes, you're changing its sign. – TonyK Dec 10 '10 at 21:34
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You could say that, you could also say "to negate the constant term" -- both seem grammatically correct. In your expression, 'negate' changes the object of negation, while in the "to negate the constant term" 'negate' changes the sign in front of the object of negation, but it makes sense both ways.

share|cite|improve this answer

Negating its sign sounds alright. A more fanciful way of putting it is changing its polarity. Polarity is not to be confused with parity: whether a number is odd or even.

share|cite|improve this answer
Jasper, I can't believe that your'e serious. But then I can't believe that you're joking either. So...WTF?! – TonyK Dec 10 '10 at 21:33
@Jasper Loy, why are you bumping all your old posts? Are these edits really necessary? Try to limit your edits on these inactive posts to just one or two an hour if they're necessary... – Stahl Mar 27 '13 at 23:00

I think it is much more standard to say 'Multiplying equation (..) by -1 gives' than 'negating equation (...)'. As for 'negating the constant term', I'm not even sure of what that would mean, and without some serious context seems a bad idea.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.