Trouble with fours and threes

7th February 1997 at 00:00
I would like to take issue with Ruth Merton over her reading of 4 x 3 as four lots of 3 (TES, January 17). This is incorrect and misleading.

Four + 3, 4 - 3, and 4 divided by 3 are all operations done to the 4 and not the 3. Consequently, in the case of 4 x 3, something must be done to the 4 (and not the 3) and so this should be seen as three lots of 4. One should, therefore, interpret 4 x 3 as being either 4 being repeated three times, or 4 multiplied three times, but it certainly isn't 3 repeated four times!

PETER CRITCHLEY Willow Cottage Fen Road Pakenham Bury St Edmunds Suffolk

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