When I read out (as a teacher at the board) an algebraic expression where a variable is multiplied by a cardinal greater than 1, eg 4x, shall I use the variable name in the plural or in the singular?

Additionally, is the verb ‘equal’ in the plural or in the singular in such cases?

Which one is a correct reading of, say, 4x + 5y = 6: • ‘four ex plus five wye equals six’, or • ‘four exes plus five wyes equal six’?

Thank you in advance.

  • 3
    'ex' and 'equals'. There is deletion involved. 'The LHS consists of 4 lots of x and 5 lots of y. The LHS equals the RHS.' Not that anyone would ever read the equation this way unless introducing the concept of algebraic equations. Feb 22, 2018 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


You would definitely use your FIRST version: "four ex plus five wye equals six".

To extend it to further concepts, the quadratic equation would be, "ex equals minus bee plus or minus the square root of bee squared minus four ay see all over two ay"

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