Recently I was asked to briefly explain the difference between math and arithmetic. Here’s what I came up with:

Arithmetic can answer the question:

“What is 3 plus 2?”

Arithmetic *cannot* answer the question:

“What are 3 apples plus 2 oranges?”

Math, on the other hand, can take a higher order look at the problem and answer:

“3 apples plus 2 oranges are 5 pieces of fruit.”

Math is about relationships and patterns.

Math is arithmetic plus context.

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