Less Than vs. Greater Than: Expressing Inequalities in English

In everyday life, and especially when dealing with numbers, we often need to compare values to understand their relationship with each other. This is where symbols like ‘less than’ (<) and ‘greater than’ (>) come into play. Understanding the less than and greater than symbols is crucial because they are the foundation of expressing inequalities.

The Main Difference between Less than and Greater than

Mastering Inequalities: Less Than vs. Greater Than

Less than vs. Greater than: Key Takeaways

  • Greater than: Left number > Right number
  • Less than: Left number < Right number

Less than vs. Greater than: the Definition

What Does Less than Mean? 

The “less than” symbol, denoted as <, is used when we compare two values, where the value on the left side is smaller than the one on the right side. For instance, when we write 3 < 5, we are indicating that 3 is less than 5.

  • Example 1: 2 < 7 shows that 2 is less than 7.
  • Example 2: 6 < 10 means 6 is smaller in value when compared to 10.

What Does Greater than Mean? 

On the flip side, the “greater than” symbol > indicates that the value on the left is larger than the value on the right. For instance, 8 > 6 communicates that 8 is greater than 6.

  • Example 1: 9 > 4 confirms that 9 is greater than 4.
  • Example 2: 15 > 12 tells us 15 exceeds 12 in value.

Less than vs. Greater than to Usage and Examples

Less than (<): This symbol indicates that the number on the left is smaller than the number on the right. For example, 3 < 5 means that 3 is less than 5.

Greater than (>): This symbol shows that the number on the left is larger than the number on the right. For example, 8 > 6 means that 8 is greater than 6.

Here are some examples:

  • If you have 4 apples and your friend has 7 apples, you have less than your friend. This can be written as 4 < 7.
  • A tree that is 20 feet tall is greater than a bush that is 5 feet tall. In mathematical terms, 20 > 5.
  • If a recipe calls for less than 2 cups of sugar, you might use 1.5 cups, because 1.5 < 2.
  • In a race, if Car A finishes in 50 seconds and Car B finishes in 40 seconds, Car B’s time is less than Car A’s time, so 40 < 50.
  • If a classroom has a maximum capacity of 30 students and only 25 students are present, the number of students is less than the maximum capacity: 25 < 30.

Remember, the symbol points to the smaller number, like a little arrow or a mouth that wants to eat the larger number!

Less than vs. Greater than: Examples

Example Sentences Using Less than

  • Our team scored less than 50 points in the last game, specifically 45 points.
  • We found that only 3 out of 10 students spent less than an hour on homework daily.
  • The recipe requires less than a teaspoon of salt, which means not more than ¾ teaspoon.
  • We expect temperatures to drop to less than 0 degrees Celsius tonight.
  • Our garden yields less than 100 tomatoes each season, often around 80.

Example Sentences Using Greater than

  • Our company’s goal is to serve greater than 500 customers daily.
  • The new model consumes greater than 10% less energy than the previous one.
  • The stadium can hold greater than 20,000 spectators, making it one of the largest in our region.

Related Confused Words with Less than vs. Greater than

Less than vs. Equal to 

Less than (<) indicates that one number is smaller than another. For instance, 2 < 5 shows that 2 is less than 5. In contrast, equal to (=) suggests that two numbers are the same in value. An example is 3 = 3, which states that 3 is equal to 3.

Example of Less than:

  • If we have 4 apples and someone has 7, we can say 4 < 7.

Example of Equal to:

  • When each side of a balance scale has 3 oranges, we see 3 = 3.

Related: Less than vs. Equal to 

Greater than vs. More than

Greater than (>) directly compares two numbers, where the number before the symbol is larger than the number after. For example, 9 > 6 signifies that 9 is greater than 6. More than is often used in the same way but can also refer to non-numerical concepts, like ‘more joy.’

Example of Greater than:

  • In terms of temperature, if today is 23°C and yesterday was 20°C, we say 23 > 20.

Example of More than:

  • If a jar has 30 candies, saying “the jar has more than 25 candies” implies at least 31 candies or a greater amount.