Greater Than & Less Than

Remembering which sign or symbol is which can be difficult, but we have an easy trick for you! See how the greater than and less than symbol has a wide end and a skinny end?

One side is as tall as LeBron, and the other is about as tall as a tarantula. The wide side is always the bigger side, so in this case, we would read this from left to right as LeBron is greater than Durantula - whoops, we mean tarantula.

If we flip things around, we can still read it left to right, but now it reads as a tarantula is less than LeBron.

Let's practice:

Less Than vs. Greater Than


Good! So, remember:

  1. If the wide side comes first, we read the symbol as greater than. If the skinny side comes first, we reads it as less than.
  2. The wide side always points at whatever is bigger.

Nice, now, there's also less than or equal to, \leq , and greater than or equal to, \geq.

It's like the difference between your mom saying you can stay out until 10pm and your mom saying that if you're not home at 10pm you're grounded for life. In the first case, you can be out before and at 10pm and in the other you can only be out before 10pm.

Similarly, if

x5x\leq 5

then xx can equal anything less than 55 and also 55 itself. But, if x<5x < 5
then xx cannot equal 55, it has to be smaller.

Quick review! Match the sign with the meaning.