Properties Of Subtraction

Teaching the properties of subtraction is vital for better understanding and quick execution of subtraction problems. Basically, properties act like shortcuts to perform operations.

This teaching guide is mainly designed for children aged 6 to 8 years. Prior to the properties of subtraction, the child is introduced to subtraction as the process of taking away or finding the difference between two numbers. Demonstrate subtraction visually using manipulatives such as counting objects.

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There are 3 properties of subtraction :

  1. Identity property of subtraction
  2. Commutative or order property of subtraction
  3. Zero property of subtraction

1. Identity Property of Subtraction

  • The identity property of subtraction states that subtracting 0 from any number will not change the identity of the number.
  • A – 0 = A or 5 – 0 = 5

This property can be easily explained using visual representations, such as circles or number lines.

2. Commutative (Order) Property Of Subtraction

  • The commutative property of subtraction states that the order of numbers is very important in subtraction.
  • As on swapping the order of subtrahend and minuend (numbers to be subtracted) the value of the answer or difference also changes.
  • A – B is not equal to B – A
  • 5 – 3 is not equal to 3 – 5

Visual aids or number lines can be used to explain that the commutative property is not true for subtraction as on changing the order of numbers to subtract, the difference also changes.

3. Zero Property Of Subtraction

  • When a number is subtracted from itself the difference is always 0.
  • A – A = 0 or 5 – 5 = 0

Regular practise and reinforcement of the above properties of subtraction will enhance kids’ mathematical skills and further help them speed up their calculations

Uncle Math 6 to 8 Years App Banner
Uncle Math 6 to 8 Years App Banner


Teaching properties of subtraction with kid-friendly, clear, and easy-to-understand posters from Uncle Math School by Fun2Do Labs :


Teaching properties of subtraction through stories from Uncle Math School by Fun2Do Labs :

Text of Stories


Learning the properties of subtraction can be made enjoyable by incorporating interactive games and activities.

Crush the Play-Doh balls : 

This activity can be really fun for kids as they love playing with Play-Doh. All the properties of subtraction can be practised using this activity. For this activity : 

  • Give different colored Play-Doh to kids.
  • Instruct them to make colorful balls using Play-Doh.
  • Instruct kids to crush or smash the balls to subtract from the given number of balls.


Help your kids practise the properties of subtraction with interesting and engaging fun worksheets and solutions from Uncle Math by Fun2Do Labs.

Worksheet 225 : Zero - Word Problems
Solution 225 : Zero - Word Problems

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