# Is this called a math problem or a math question or a math exercise?

This text from a first-grade textbook

"Tom had 20 eggs and his friends gave him 30 eggs. How many eggs did Tom have?"

Is that text called a math problem or a math question or a math exercise?

Then, a child wrote down "20+30=50".

Is "20+30=50" called an equation?

Is "20+30" called an operation?

Is "50" called the result or value?

• This isn’t a question. It is four questions. Commented Jul 15 at 11:46
• It's an arithmetic problem. Commented Jul 15 at 15:27
• Note, these are not exactly advanced mathematical terms. But if they were, this would not be the site for them. Asking about specialized terminology for a specific subject isn't really on-topic here. Commented Jul 15 at 16:44
• @AndyBonner Come on, it's basic English. Nothing specialized about it. Commented Jul 15 at 21:43

For precision in these answers you may be better off in the Mathematics forum. But at a basic language level my answers are:

1. Problem, question and exercise are all natural words in this context. You also have the option of saying math or maths. Personally maths comes more naturally to me as a New Zealander.

2. You have correctly labelled equation. Put simply it's a mathematical expression with an equals sign. The stuff on the left equals the stuff on the right.

3. 20+30 is an operation, and the symbols involved, such as addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (x) and division (/), are called operands. This could also be called a calculation. Another basic word to be aware of is workings, which describes the notes I might need to write down to help me work out the answer.

4. 50 can be called the result of the calculation, but I would more simply call it the answer. I would not use value here, because I think that is more accurately used in algebra as the number assigned to a variable. (eg, If y=6, then 3y+1=19. Here y has been assigned a value of 6.)

## Important edit

Having read the first comment below I agree entirely that my point 3 above is not accurate. However I'm leaving it as I originally posted it because it reinforces the point I started with: We are not experts in maths here. Please treat the comment as an important part of the final answer.

• I disagree with 3. 20+30 is an expression that involves the addition operator. The numbers 20 and 30 are the operands of that operator. Commented Jul 15 at 10:59
• At a basic level language and math level, this is simply arithmetic. First graders learn simple arithmethic. And I doubt they learn the word operand and operators at this level. YOur answer is too high level as is the other one. Commented Jul 16 at 15:26

It is a problem, a question and an exercise.

20+30=50 is the working out, in the form of a sum and the total, that the child has done to answer the problem/question/exercise.

A "sum" is used for "An arithmetic computation" as in this example, but it is also used for "a quantity obtained by addition". It's common and correct to write the answer to a sum using the equals sign to write an equation. But normally "equations" are found in algebra. 20+30 is an arithmentic expression. And 50 is the result of the addidtion. It is the answer to the sum.

Children don't talk like this. Phrases like "arithmetic computation" are not kid-speak. This is just "maths" or "working out" and kids won't really use names for the elements of their working out.

• No one says arithmetic computation to a first grader. I really do not understand all these high-level answers. Sure, it's a sum; but it's part of the four things you learn in arithmetic as kid. Commented Jul 16 at 22:33

It is common for questions like this to be called 'maths problems' (or 'math problems' in US English), because they are usually posed in an education setting, in a mathematics class. Really though, they are simply 'problems' which can be solved by applying maths.

One of the skills learned in mathematics classes is to consider which branch of mathematics (eg algebra, trigonometry, arithmetic etc) is needed to solve a problem. So I would disagree with the suggestion that you should call this an 'arithmetic problem', for example, as that tells the student what they should apply and it ceases to be a "problem" for them to solve. If you present a question like "what is 20 plus 30", or even write it was "20+20=?", this is just a 'sum' or an 'equation' to be completed, not a problem to be solved.

'Problems' occur in everyday life, and we decide how to solve them. How much turf should you buy to cover your lawn? You can use geometry. How much change will you get from your shopping? Arithmetic.

• For first graders, this answer is too sophisticated. The point is that it is arithmetic. Commented Jul 16 at 15:24
• @lambie Firstly, how do you know the OP is a first-grader? They are learning English, they found something in a first-grade textbook and want to know what it is called. They might be a maths teacher. Secondly, 'first-grade' might not mean the same thing in every country. And thirdly, even if you are right in assuming that the OP is aged 7, to criticise my answer for being 'sophisticated' is extreme pettiness and something of an insult to the OP, who is at least smart enough to know what an 'equation' and a mathematical 'operation' are and spell them correctly. Disgraceful. Commented Jul 17 at 7:30
• The OP is not. His kid is. He is always talking about his kid. Commented Jul 20 at 16:03

You can call it an exercise, a problem or question.

Arithmetic =
Subtraction
Multiplication
and Division

"20+30=50" is an arithmetic problem or a math problem.