Rational expressions are an important part of algebra, and adding two of them can be a tricky process. However, with a clear understanding of the steps involved, you can quickly and efficiently add rational expressions. In this article, we will walk through the process of adding two rational expressions, step by step.

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## Understanding Rational Expressions

Before diving into the steps involved in adding rational expressions, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what they are. A rational expression is a fraction where the numerator and denominator are both polynomials. For example, **(3x + 1) / (2x – 5)** is a rational expression. In algebra, rational expressions often show up in equations and functions, and being able to add them is a valuable skill.

## Step 1: Find a Common Denominator

The first step in adding two rational expressions is to find a common denominator. To do this, factor each of the denominators and identify the unique factors. Once you have identified the unique factors, the common denominator is the product of all these unique factors. For example, if you have the expressions **(2x + 3) / (x – 1)** and **(3x – 2) / (x + 2)**, the common denominator would be **(x – 1)(x + 2)**.

## Step 2: Adjust the Numerators

After finding the common denominator, the next step is to adjust the numerators so that they have the same denominator. To do this, multiply both the numerator and denominator of each expression by the missing factors that are needed to make the denominators match. In the example above, if you have **(2x + 3) / (x – 1)** and **(3x – 2) / (x + 2)**, you would need to multiply the first expression by **(x + 2)** and the second expression by **(x – 1)**.

## Step 3: Add the Numerators

Once the numerators have the same denominator, you can simply add the numerators together. This involves adding or subtracting the terms in the numerators, depending on whether the original expressions were being added or subtracted. For example, if you have **(2x + 3)(x + 2)** and **(3x – 2)(x – 1)**, you would add them to get a new numerator.

## Step 4: Simplify the Expression

After adding the numerators, you may have a new rational expression that can be further simplified by factoring and canceling out common factors. This step is essential to ensure that the final expression is in its simplest form. Continuing with our example, we would factor the new numerator and denominator, and then cancel out any common factors.

## Example

Let’s go through an example to illustrate the steps involved in adding two rational expressions. We have the expressions **(2x + 3) / (x – 1)** and **(3x – 2) / (x + 2)**. First, we find the common denominator, which is **(x – 1)(x + 2)**. Next, we adjust the numerators to have the same denominator: **((2x + 3)(x + 2)) / ((x – 1)(x + 2))** and **((3x – 2)(x – 1)) / ((x – 1)(x + 2))**. We then add the numerators together to get a new numerator: **(2x^2 + 4x + 3x + 6) + (3x^2 – 3x – 2x + 2)**. After simplifying, the final expression will be: **(5x^2 + x + 6) / (x^2 + x – 2)**.

## Conclusion

Adding two rational expressions involves finding a common denominator, adjusting the numerators, adding the numerators, and simplifying the final expression. By following these steps, you can successfully add rational expressions and use this skill to solve algebraic problems. It’s important to practice this process to become proficient at adding rational expressions, as it is a fundamental skill in algebra and mathematics.

Remember that each step is crucial in ensuring the accuracy of the final result. Taking the time to understand the steps involved and practicing them will lead to mastery of adding rational expressions.

Hopefully, this article has provided a clear and comprehensive explanation of the steps involved in adding two rational expressions.