Rules set language apart from simpler forms of communication. These rules help the reader or listener understand the writer or speaker. In natural languages, like English or Spanish, these rules are called syntax. In mathematics, these rules are called order of operations. Think about the following sentence.
My friends and I are going to dinner and a movie later.
How many ways can this sentence be understood? What common rules help us to understand what the writer probably means? In the same way, it is important to understand what the expression
actually means. Try calculating by multiplying first and then by adding first. Are the answers the same? Can you see why order of operations is important in creating meaning?
Add the 12 monthly usage amounts and subtract the 11 equal payments already made to find the amount you owe in May.
You owe $243.71 in May.
Here is another way to find this solution. For each month, subtract the payment you made from the amount you owe. Then use a spreadsheet to find the balance due in May.
Download the spreadsheet and try entering different amounts as your equal monthly payment. Try finding an amount so that you owe nothing in May.
Which would you prefer? (a) Make lower monthly payments and owe a lot in May. (b) Make payments that are just the right amount and owe nothing in May. (c) Make higher monthly payments and end up with a credit in May.
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