I am preparing a mathematics syllabus for students, so I need to give a heading like "Adding and subtracting small numbers OR Addition and Subtraction of Smaller Numbers." which one is the correct one ?

  • Did you mean "Smaller Numbers" in the second phrase?
    – user3169
    Jul 23, 2016 at 5:18
  • @user3169 yes, Smaller Numbers. Jul 23, 2016 at 5:47

2 Answers 2


They're both correct.

Adding = Addition

Subtracting = Subtraction

The difference between the two is that addition is a noun, whereas adding is the present progressive form (gerund) of the verb to add

Addition and Subtraction sounds a bit more scholarly than Adding and Subtracting does. But it is not more scholarly, really.


You are changing two separate things in those statements. The add/subtract change does not affect the meaning at all--both statements are the same--but "small" would be the more typical word vs. "smaller," unless you are specifically referring back to a previous lesson. There is nothing about the add/subtract changes that has any bearing on small vs. smaller.

  • Thank you very much, so it's better to use the word "smaller" right ? Jul 23, 2016 at 6:23
  • It would depend on the exact context within a syllabus, but most Americans would use "small numbers" in that heading--it is a common two-word mathematics phrase in a way that "smaller numbers" is definitely not.
    – Phil Esra
    Jul 23, 2016 at 6:32

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