Rational expression is a fancy way of saying a fraction. We generally use the term rational expression in Algebra 1 to refer to equations with fractions that have polynomials as the numerator and/or denominator. There are a number of important topics that come up in the discussion of such equations, but before you can really get into it and understand it, you have to have a basic understanding of how fractions work and how to manipulate them.
For some reason, fractions scare a lot of people, generally when they aren’t particularly confident in their ability to do math. Because of this, fractions are a source of a lot of anxiety and frustration in Algebra 1. Here we’re going to present rational expressions in a way that will start from the very beginning of understanding what fractions are. From there, you’ll learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions using regular numbers and polynomials.
When dealing with rational expressions, it’s useful to understand the importance of division by zero, why division by zero is not defined, and how you can use the idea of division by zero to make solving equations easier. Here we’re going to cover all of that and then some.