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

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today