What is the commutative property ? Definition and examples.

The commutative property means that changing the order in which things are done will not change the result.

In fact the word commutative is related to the word commute.

To commute is to change the order in which you travel. For example, first, you could go from point E to point F and then you go from point F to point E.

If the distance you travel is still the same whether you go from E to F or F to E, then you are dealing with the commutative property.

More examples of the commutative property and some real life examples.

  • John does his math homework. Then, he does his science homework. Whether John does his math homework first or science homework first the result, that is doing all his homework, is the same.
  • Two plus five is the same as five plus two.
  • Maria went to the supermarket. Then, she went to do beauty salon. Maria can go to the beauty Salon first and then go to the supermarket.

Situations that do not show the commutative property.

  • Jeff buys an airplane ticket to Kenya, Africa. Then, he flies to Kenya. Jeff cannot fly first to Kenya and then buys a ticket to Kenya.
  • 8 divided by 2 = 4 and 2 divided by 8 = 0.25
  • Peter studies for the exam and then take the exam. Peter cannot take the exam before studying.
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