## What is a Numerator?

A numerator is the top number of a fraction. The word comes from the Latin root word “numerare” and it means “the thing by which the number of something is denoted”. Ancient mathematicians chose this word because the numerator of a fraction tells you the number of fractional parts you are working with.

The bottom of a fraction (also known as the denominator) determines the size of the fractional parts by telling you how many fractional parts are in a whole.

If the numerator of the fraction is bigger than the denominator, then the fraction is an improper fraction. Improper fractions represent more than a whole and so they can be converted to mixed numbers, if needed.

## Examples

The numerator of \(\frac{4}{5}\) is 4.

The numerator of \(\frac{7}{12}\) is 7.

The numerator of \(\frac{1}{2}\) is 1.

## Fractions as Division

Fractions are usually interpreted as a parts of a whole. When most people see \(\frac{2}{3}\), they think of one whole split into three parts with two of the parts shaded.

However, fractions can also be interpreted as division. For example, \(\frac{2}{3}\) could be seen as two wholes that are divided equally among three people.

Either way, the amount represented by the fraction \(\frac{2}{3}\) is the same. There are just two different ways of thinking about it. When fractions are interpreted as division, the numerator of the fraction is the dividend of the division problem.

## When Will I Use Numerators?

When you convert improper fractions to whole numbers, you will divide the numerator of the fraction by the denominator.

When you find the reciprocal of a fraction, the numerator will become the denominator and vice versa.

If you have variables like x or y in a fraction, that means you are dealing with a rational expression. You can follow these rules to simplify rational expressions or you can follow these steps to solve rational equations if there is an equal sign.