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This is an addition technique in which one starts with the most right column, adds the two digits, puts a "1" below or above the digit on the left if the sum exceeds 10, and puts the remainder in the sum. Then, we do the same with the columns left to it, adding 1 to the sum if it is in that column. It's fairly obvious and it is a common technique that is taught in many elementary schools in the Netherlands.

In Dutch, we call this technique "cijferen", which translates to something close to "digiting". Does this technique have a name in English?

  • 9
    I've always heard this called "carrying." You might get the best answers from matheducators.stackexchange.com
    – jejorda2
    Oct 24, 2017 at 15:22
  • 1
    "Ciphering" is a perfectly good, if slightly old-fashioned, English word too: it just means "calculating" (collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/ciphering).
    – AAT
    Oct 24, 2017 at 15:53
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    Although I'm Dutch, I never heard of cijferen to describe carrying. It applies to the complete adding technique, which means that the question as it stands is not answered by the accepted answer but rather the one that proposes long addition. Either the question is badly formulated (using even the wrong Dutch word) or somehow the incorrect answer was selected.
    – oerkelens
    Oct 24, 2017 at 17:54
  • 'Cipher' means 'zero' and applies to any operation with arabic numbers. (Possibly related to 'zephyr[os]', [god of] the gentle [west] wind -- both words rooted in Greek.) Carrying of just 'one' only works with max of two operands.
    – AmI
    Oct 24, 2017 at 20:55
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3 Answers 3


The individual instance of transferring one digit from one row or column to another in addition or multiplication is called carrying.

The general process of addition using cyclical carrying (or not as the case may be) is called long addition. It takes its place alongside long subtraction, long multiplication and long division. Of these, long division is the most well-known and frequently used term. Together these are sometimes referred to as the long operations. What all of these have in common is the transferring of some sort of remainder or leading digit from one column or row to another.

So, if you ask your maths teacher what you're doing in class today, they'll say "long addition". If someone asks you what you're doing when you put a digit below or above another column, you'll say "I'm carrying the one".

  • 4
    This does not accurately answer the OP. "long addition" may describe the action of adding those two numbers together, but not the action of putting a 1 in the next column. The proper term for this is "carrying".
    – nmg49
    Oct 24, 2017 at 15:50
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    @nmg49 The OP didn't ask for the sub-technique of carrying though. They asked for the method of adding up in general, which uses carrying as they mention "if the sum exceeds ten". Now if the sum doesn't exceed ten, what's the method called? It ain't called carrying! "Carrying" is a sub-process of long addition. Oct 24, 2017 at 15:56
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    @nmg49: No - the title of the question is "Does this addition technique have a name", and then the question starts by clarifying which adding technique is referred to: "This is an addition technique in which one starts with the most right column, adds the two digits, [etc]". The carrying is incidental (it is a part of the technique, but only happens sometimes - "adding 1 to the sum if it is in that column."). The question, as worded, is asking about the technique as a whole, not specifically about carrying.
    – psmears
    Oct 24, 2017 at 16:18
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    @psmears I stand corrected, I do think he may have been describing long addition. The question is a bit ambiguous. Regardless, I think having both terms makes for a better answer. As such, I'll give this one an upvote.
    – nmg49
    Oct 24, 2017 at 16:33
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    Around where I grew up, nobody ever said "long addition", it was just "addition". Mainly because this was the only method anyone ever taught or used, so it didn't need its own special name to distinguish it from other addition methods. I'd never heard of "long addition" until reading this answer (and I have a bachelor's degree in mathematics). Oct 26, 2017 at 4:09

I was taught it as column addition.

Given the webpages listed by Google for this term, I believe it's a British English term.

Google trends supports that:

Google trends comparing UK and US for term "column addition"

And it shows that there are almost no searches for "regrouping addition" in the UK:


I was always taught the term "Carry the one", but I can understand regrouping...

 6848 +
11110 +

as in this is a way to regroup in a way that is easier to solve (if you also drop the 0's in it stays a valid math problem, but one that is easier to solve)

also the way I was taught was to superscript a 1 above the number to the left... but I actually like your way better.

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