Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Expression and Equation

Expression and equation are commonly used terms in mathematics. If you’ve studied mathematics at an elementary level, chances are high that you’ve come across them a few times. As both terms are related to variables, they are often misconstrued for one another. That’s where this piece comes in. We’ve highlighted the meaning, similarities and differences between expression and equation. 

What is an Expression?

An algebraic expression refers to a mathematical statement comprising variables, numbers and arithmetic function, e.g 5m + 6n. In this expression, 4 and 5 are the numbers, m and 6 are the variables while + is the arithmetic function. 

Variables refer to any part of the algebraic expression that does not have a fixed value. Often, these variables are represented by alphabets, like a, b, c , d, e, m, n, x and y. It’s possible to form a variety of expressions by combining several alphabets and digits. 

What is an Equation?

An algebraic equation refers to two expressions connected by an equal sign (=), e.g 4m + 2n = 5m + 6n. 4m + 2n is the left hand side (LHS) of this equation, while 5m + 6n is its right hand side. The equal sign in an equation means the LHS is equal to the RHS. 

Possible Similarities Between Expression and Equation

Expressions and equations are both fundamental concepts in mathematics, but they serve slightly different purposes. Here are a few similarities between both of them: 

Contain variables: Both expressions and equations can contain variables, which are symbols that represent unknown or varying quantities.

Mathematical operations: They both involve mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Evaluation: Expressions and equations can both be evaluated. In expressions, you can substitute specific values for the variables and compute the result. In equations, you can solve for the values of the variables that make the equation true.

Components: Both expressions and equations can consist of constants (fixed numerical values), variables, and mathematical operations.

Difference Between Expression and Equation

Expressions and equations are both mathematical statements. However, There are several differences between them and they include: 

  • Equality: Equations assert equality between two expressions, typically denoted by an equal sign (=), whereas expressions do not assert equality.
  • Purpose: Equations are used to represent relationships between quantities and are solved to find the values of variables that satisfy the equality. However, expressions are used to represent mathematical phrases or quantities without asserting any equality.
  • Solution: Equations can be solved to find the values of variables that make the equation true. On the other hand, Expressions are not solved in the same way; they are evaluated to produce a single value.
  • Structure: Equations have a distinct structure with an equal sign separating two expressions on either side. Expressions can be simple or complex but do not necessarily contain an equal sign.
  • Examples: Examples of equations include 2x + 3 = 7 or x^2 – 5x + 6 = 0, where the goal is to find the values of X that satisfy the equation. Examples of expressions include 3x + 2, 2x^2 – 5, or 4x + 7y, which are mathematical phrases without an assertion of equality.

Expression vs Equation: Comparison Table


Mathematics remains one of the toughest subjects for students in the entire school curriculum. You may not realize it, but the majority of elementary mathematical problems and concepts are based on expressions and equations. By differentiating between both, it’s possible to simplify your overall maths experience. Go through this article to learn the subtle similarities and differences between expressions and equations. 


What are examples of expressions and equation?

4m + 2n is an example of an expression while 4m + 2n = 7m – 1n is an example of an equation. 

How do you tell whether the following is an expression or equation?

You can differentiate an expression from an equation with the equal sign (=). Expressions are mathematical statements that do not have an equal sign, while equations have an equal sign. 

What are the differences between an expression and equation and an identity?

An equation shows that two expressions are equal. However, they may only equal at a certain value. 4m + 5n = 3m + 2n is an example of an equation. On the other hand, an identity shows that two expressions are identical. 6m + 2m = 8m is an example of an identity. 

What is the difference between an equation and a formula?

An equation is a way of saying several terms are equal to one another while a formula describes a special equation that expresses a unique relationship between variables. 

What is the easiest way to determine an equation from expression?

The easiest way to determine an expression from an equation is by considering the equal sign. 

What is the example of an equation?

5a + 6m = 4am – 2m is an example of an equation. 5a + 6m is the right hand side of the equation. However, 4am – 2m is the left hand side of the equation. 

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References :

[0]Algebra: Expressions And Equations - Definition and Examples. (n.d.). BYJUS. https://byjus.com/maths/algebra-expressions-equations/#:~:text=An%20expression%20is%20a%20number 

[1]Differentiates Between Algebaic Expression and Equation | PDF | Equations | Design. (n.d.). Scribd. Retrieved February 10, 2024, from https://www.scribd.com/document/399743507/Differentiates-Between-Algebaic-Expression-and-Equation

[2]Sixth Grade / Distinguishing Between Expressions & Equations. (n.d.). Www.math4texas.org. Retrieved February 10, 2024, from https://www.math4texas.org/Page/527

[3]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEJHq1zpH0-hand-writing-algebra-equations/

[4]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MADAQfpdrQc-math-geometry-background/

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