Solving Linear Equations with Variables on Both Sides: A Step-by-Step Guide

Solving Linear Equations with Variables on Both Sides A Step-by-Step Guide

Solving linear equations with variables on both sides is a fundamental skill in algebra that I consider essential for understanding a wide range of mathematical and real-world problems.

An equation of this sort typically looks like $ax + b = cx + d$, where $x$ is the variable you’re looking to solve for, and $a$, $b$, $c$, and $d$ represent constants.

My general strategy for tackling these equations involves a series of steps to isolate the variable on one side of the equation.

This means I’ll be adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing throughout to get $x$ by itself, which simplifies the equation down to something like $x = e$, with $e$ being the solution.

A balance scale with variable weights on both sides

In dealing with these types of equations, it’s important to maintain the balance of the equation, as whatever I do to one side, I must also do to the other to preserve equality.

Sometimes, this involves combining like terms or using the distributive property to simplify each side of the equation; it’s like a mathematical dance where precision and balance are key.

Remember to check your solution by substituting it back into the original equation to ensure both sides equal out. Stay tuned as I walk you through this interesting and engaging process, sparking a light of understanding in the elegant dance of algebra.

Steps for Solving Equations With Variables on Both Sides

When I encounter an algebraic equation with variables on both sides, my first step is to simplify each side of the equation if needed. This involves expanding expressions using the distributive property, combining like terms, and organizing the equation so it becomes easier to work with.

Here’s a breakdown in a table format:

1. DistributeApply the distributive property to remove parentheses.
2. Combine like terms on each sideAdd or subtract like terms on both sides of the equation.
3. Get all variables on one sideUse addition or subtraction to move variables to one side.
4. Get all constants on the opposite sideMove constants to the opposite side using opposite operations.
5. Simplify the equationEnsure each side of the equation is as simplified as possible.
6. Solve for the variableDivide or multiply to solve for the variable.

Let’s consider the equation, $7y = 11x + 4x – 8$. I would combine the $x$ terms on the right first, getting $7y = 15x – 8$. Now, if I need $y$ on one side and $x$ on the other, I might decide to move the $x$ terms to the other side by subtracting $15x$ from both sides, resulting in $7y – 15x = -8$.

After that, if there are any coefficients attached to the variable I’m solving for, I’ll divide both sides by that coefficient. If I am solving for $y$, and the equation is $7y – 15x = -8$, I’d divide everything by 7 to isolate $y$:

$$ \frac{7y}{7} – \frac{15x}{7} = \frac{-8}{7} $$ $$ y – \frac{15x}{7} = \frac{-8}{7} $$

Now, if I need to solve for $y$ explicitly, I might rearrange the terms to show $y$ as a function of $x$, which would give me $y = \frac{15x}{7} – \frac{8}{7}$ as the final step.

This straightforward approach ensures the equation is balanced and leaves me with a clear solution for the variable in question.

Solving Example Equation

When I solve equations with variables on both sides, I start by simplifying both sides separately. Let’s take the example of the linear equation $2x + 3 = x – 5$. My goal is to isolate the variable, x, on one side to find its value.

First, I use addition and subtraction properties of equality to get all the x terms on one side and the constants on the other. Subtracting x from both sides gives me $2x – x + 3 = x – x – 5$, which simplifies to $x + 3 = -5$.

Next, I apply subtraction to remove 3 from both sides, resulting in $x + 3 – 3 = -5 – 3$. Simplifying this, I get $x = -8$.

Here’s a breakdown of the steps I took in a more visual format:

Start with the original equation$2x + 3 = x – 5$To begin simplification
Subtract x from both sides$x + 3 = -5$To get terms with x on one side
Subtract 3 from both sides$x = -8$To isolate the variable

After simplifying, I realize that the equation has led me to a true statement: $x = -8$ is the solution indicating the value of the variable that satisfies the equation.

It’s also important to combine like terms and utilize the distributive property appropriately if the equation were to have more complex expressions.

By performing the correct multiplication or division based on the properties of equality, I ensure the equation remains balanced and arrive at an accurate solution.


Solving linear equations with variables on both sides has been a focus throughout this discussion.

I’ve demonstrated how to bring the variables to one side and the constants to the other, which often involves the use of the addition or subtraction property of equality. Remember to always perform the same operation on both sides to maintain the balance of the equation.

Once the variables are isolated, you might need to use the division property to find the variable’s value. The key to solving these equations lies in following a systematic approach: distribute, combine like terms, and isolate the variable.

For example, when presented with an equation like $3x + 7 = 2x – 5$, my first step is to eliminate the $x$ from one side by subtracting $2x$ from both sides, simplifying it to $x + 7 = -5$. Then, I isolate $x$ by subtracting $7$ from both sides, resulting in $x = -12$.

By taking these steps, I ensure that each equation is solved accurately, and the true value of the variable is revealed.

Finally, checking my work by substituting the solution back into the original equation guarantees the integrity of the results.

This methodical approach not only makes complex problems more manageable but also instills confidence in my ability to tackle similar challenges in the future.