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Comparing Whole Numbers


When you compare whole numbers, one will be greater and one will be smaller (or the two numbers can be equal). To compare these numbers, you will need to use inequality signs to express which number is larger. For example, if you want to show that 58 is larger than 19, you can write 19<58 or 58>19.



To compare the values of numbers, you can first use a number table. This helps you align the digits to easily compare which is larger. You can use a number table like the one below:


Let's compare the following numbers:

  • 876
  • 786

We would first put them in the number table, making sure that we fill them in from the right so that the ones table always has a value.


To compare which one is larger, we look to the furthest column to the left. Both have their highest value in the hundreds column, but one has an 8 value and one has a 7 value, meaning that the 8 value is the highest. Therefore 876 is higher than 786.

To express this as an inequality, we can write it in two ways. We can either say that 876 is larger than 786, or that 786 is smaller than 876.

To say that 876 is larger, we need the 'is greater than' symbol, which is >. We can, therefore, write 876>786.

To say that 786 is smaller, we need the 'is less than' symbol, which is <. We can, therefore, write 786<876.

(To help you remember which is which, the smaller part of the symbol points at the smaller value and the wider part of the symbol points at the bigger value.)


1212 ? 101101

211211 ? 222222
Compare the Hundreds place
2=22 = 2
Compare the Tens place
1<21 < 2

Comparing Whole Numbers Worksheets (PDF)