# “Negative” versus “Minus”

As a math educator, do you think it is appropriate to insist that students say “negative $$0.80.8$$” and
not “minus $$0.80.8$$” to denote $$−0.8-0.8$$?

The so called “textbook answer” regarding this question reads:

A number and its opposite are called additive inverses of each other because their sum is zero, the identity element for addition. Thus, the numeral $$−5-5$$ can be read “negative five,” “the opposite of five,” or “the additive inverse of five.”

This question involves two separate, but related issues; the first is discussed at an elementary level here. While the second, and more advanced, issue is discussed here. I also found this concerning use in elementary education.

I recently found an excellent historical/cultural perspective on What’s so baffling about negative numbers? written by a Fields medalist.

I am fully comfortable with “minus $x$,” and indeed like it better than “negative $x$,” and have seldom used the latter in lectures.