We just started this today in class and I have several homework problems, but I don't understand it at all. Can anyone show me step by step how to do this. The problem is $4/(\tan x + \cot x)$.

My teacher went ahead and told us the answer would be $4\sin x\cos x$, so we can make sure we use the right steps and get the correct answer. I am so lost in this. Please help me understand.

  • $\begingroup$ Please elaborate on what to do this this expression. What are the instructions? $\endgroup$ – King Squirrel May 8 '14 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ My teacher just said to show the steps using the trig identities to get to the answer.I guess it is considered solving it? Not sure. Sorry $\endgroup$ – Ila Isabelle May 8 '14 at 21:53

Assuming that your teacher wants the expression simplified:






=> 4/(1/(sinxcosx))


  • $\begingroup$ The King orders Ila Isabelle to choose his answer by clicking the check mark. And the King says your welcome. $\endgroup$ – King Squirrel May 8 '14 at 22:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Lol, as you command King. $\endgroup$ – Ila Isabelle May 8 '14 at 22:03

Use the definition: $$ \tan x=\frac{\sin x}{\cos x},\quad \cot x=\frac{\cos x}{\sin x}. $$ So $$ \frac{4}{\tan x+\cot x}=\frac{4}{\dfrac{\sin x}{\cos x}+\dfrac{\cos x}{\sin x}}= \frac{4}{\dfrac{\sin^2 x+\cos^2x}{\sin x\cos x}} $$ Now, what can you do?

  • $\begingroup$ sin^2x + cos^2x= 1, so then I multiply 4*sinx*cosx. Please tell me I am right? $\endgroup$ – Ila Isabelle May 8 '14 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ @IlaIsabelle Yes, you are. $\endgroup$ – egreg May 8 '14 at 21:57

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