The Whole Numbers – The Essentials of Mathematics

Whole numbers are an essential part of elementary mathematics, but what exactly are they? These are the numbers we use to count tangible objects, such as apples or fingers, without any fractions or decimals. They are one of the most fundamental concepts in mathematics. These numbers have countless real-life applications in fields ranging from finance to science.

In this article, we will explore the definition and their characteristics. We compare them to natural numbers, examine basic operations with whole numbers, and look at some of the ways we can use them in practical daily life.

1. Definition

If you’ve ever counted your fingers or toes, you’ve already worked with these numbers. In math, a whole number is simply any number that doesn’t have a decimal or fraction attached to it. These numbers can be positive, negative, or zero, and they are the building blocks of more complex mathematical concepts.

A whole number is a type of number that includes all positive integers, negative integers, and zero. This means that any number you can think of that doesn’t have a decimal or fraction is a whole number. They have a usage in everyday life for counting, measuring, and calculating.


The concept of whole numbers has been around for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greeks all used them in their calculations. However, it wasn’t until the invention of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system in the 9th century that whole numbers were standardized and became the basis of modern mathematics.

2. Characteristics

Whole numbers have a number of unique properties, such as closing under addition, subtraction, and multiplication. This means that if you add, subtract, or multiply two whole numbers together, you will always get another whole number. These are also commutative, associative, and distributive. It means that the order in which you perform operations doesn’t affect the result.

Whole numbers have properties such as closing under addition, subtraction, and multiplication. They can divide into even and odd numbers, as well as prime and composite numbers.

Fractions and decimals are parts that are less than one. Whereas whole numbers represent a complete quantity without any fractional or decimal parts.

Prime and Composite Numbers

One important characteristic of whole numbers is that they can be classified as either prime or composite. Prime numbers are whole numbers that can only be divided by 1 and themselves, such as 2, 3, 5, and 7. Composite numbers, on the other hand, can be divided by more than 2 numbers, such as 4, 6, 8, and 9.

Even and Odd Numbers

Another important characteristic of whole numbers is that they can be classified as either even or odd. Even numbers are divisible by 2, while odd numbers are not. This means that even numbers end in 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8, while odd numbers end in 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9.

3. Whole Numbers vs. Natural Numbers

While whole numbers and natural numbers are similar, there is a key difference between the two. Natural numbers only include positive integers, starting with 1 and going up to infinity. Whole numbers, on the other hand, include zero and negative integers as well.

A natural number is a positive integer used for counting. While a whole number is any positive or negative integer that doesn’t have a fractional or decimal component.


Using them instead of fractions or decimals can make calculations simpler and easier to understand. These numbers are also more practical for many real-world applications, such as measuring distances or counting objects.

4. Operations

Adding and subtracting them is straightforward – simply line up the digits and add or subtract starting from the right side. If you’re subtracting a larger number from a smaller number, you will need to borrow from the next digit over.

Multiplying and dividing them can be a bit trickier, but the same basic principles apply. Remember to use the distributive property when multiplying, and to factor out common factors when dividing.

Order of Operations

When performing multiple operations with them, it’s important to remember the order of operations: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, and division (performed from left to right), and finally addition and subtraction (also performed from left to right). By following this order, you can ensure that your calculations are accurate and consistent.

5. Real-life Applications

Whole numbers are one of the most fundamental concepts in mathematics. These numbers have usage in various aspects of our daily lives. We can use them in finance, science, and everyday activities in our lives. Whole numbers have usage in many practical situations such as counting money, measuring quantities of objects, and keeping track of inventory.

In this article, we will discuss some of the different ways how we can use these numbers in real-life situations.


These numbers are an essential part of finance. When we talk about money, we are dealing with whole numbers. These numbers remain in use in counting currency, calculating interest rates, and determining profits or losses. For example, when we purchase something for $10, we are using a whole number.

Similarly, when we calculate the interest on a loan, we use them to ensure that the calculation is accurate. These are also used in the stock market to calculate gains or losses.


Whole numbers are used extensively in the field of science. These numbers are used in counting and measuring objects, distances, and weights. Scientists use them in the calculation of chemical reactions, temperature, and other physical phenomena.

For example, a biologist might use whole numbers to count the number of organisms in a sample, while a physicist might use them to calculate the speed of a moving object.

6. Use in Daily Life

Whole numbers are used in our daily lives in a variety of ways. We use them when we count the number of items we purchase from a store, and we cook to measure ingredients and baking time. We use whole numbers to tell time, determine the age of people and animals, and organize our schedules and calendars.


The whole numbers are an integral part of our daily lives. From finance to science, these numbers remain under use in different fields to ensure accurate results. Understanding these numbers is essential to becoming mathematically literate and being able to apply mathematical concepts in everyday life.

The whole number is an integer that represents a complete quantity without any fractional or decimal parts. They have a variety of practical applications and are fundamental to many other areas of math.

Hopefully, this article will help to clarify what these numbers are, why they are important, and how we can use them in real-life situations. By understanding the basic properties and operations of these numbers, we can lay a strong foundation for further learning in mathematics and beyond.

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  • uhayat
  • The author has rich management exposure in banking, textiles, and teaching in business administration.