What is a Radical Sign or Symbol?

Your Quick and Easy Guide to Understanding Radicals

As you progress into Algebra 2, you will be working more extensively with radicals. It's important to understand the radial sign and how radicals are used in math.

This is the radical sign:


Sometimes you will see the radical sign with a small number outside of the "v" part. This number is called the index.

Other times you will see the radical sign without the index. When there is no index, it is always assumed to be "2", which indicates the "square root" of a number.

There will always be a number or an expression under the radical sign. This number or expression is called the radicand.

Why Do We Have Radicals?


In math, most operations have an "inverse" or "opposite" operation. Here are a few examples:

You know that addition and subtraction are opposite operations. These operations "undo" each other.

Multiplication and division are also opposites. When we solve equations, we use division to solve a multiplication equation.


Well, when we square a number or raise a number to a power, we must also have an opposite operation. So, the opposite of raising a number to the nth power is taking the nth root.

This is just the beginning - the basics!

Visit our radial home page to find more lessons on radicals!

If you are looking for even more in-depth instruction and video tutorials, please check out my extensive Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 E-course.

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