The Difference between a Monomial and a Polynomial

by Deborah
(Hardin, KY)

Why is -2 a polynomial and -5 is a monomial? I do not understand the rationale behind this and my textbook is not clear. Also how can 0 be both?

Karin from Algebra Class Says:

Before we talk about Polynomials, I want you to think of Bread!

Bread is a very general term and there are a lot of different types of bread.



We could call Rye bread just bread or we could be more specific and classify is as Rye.

This is exactly how Polynomials work:

Polynomial is the general term, but some polynomials can be classified in a more specific way.

A polynomial is any sum (or difference) of terms. A term is separated by a plus or minus sign (that's why the word sum is used).

Some polynomials can be classified more specifically as monomials, binomials, or trinomials.


Monomial (one term) - Examples: 4, 3x, 6xy, (notice there are no plus or minus signs.)

Binomial (two terms) - Examples: 3x + 2y (notice there is one plus sign)

Trinomial (three terms) - Examples: 3x+2y-4 (notice there are two plus/minus signs)

Anything with more terms than three is just classified as polynomial.

But monomials, binomials, and trinomials are also polynomials because Polynomial is the "bread" or general term.

So, to answer your question, -2, -5, and 0 are all polynomials (generally) but they can be classified further as monomials because they only have 1 term.

Hope this helps in your understanding.


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Nov 05, 2013
:-)) NEW
by: Tamone Brown

It was Helpful. Put more up.

Mar 10, 2013
by: alia

thanks karin

Feb 13, 2013
Your information contradicts itself.
by: Anonymous

Mono means one. Poly means many. The fact of a polynomial being defined as a monomial is a contradiction. AGHHHHHH!

Oct 13, 2011
Thank You So Much
by: Earl Buscato

this is really helps,to answer my problem especially in math..........and i joy i'm so thankful....

thank you...!

Aug 05, 2011
monomial is not a polynomial
by: cupid

a monomial is an algebraic expression of one term a polynomial is an algebraic expression of more than one term, a binomial and trinomial is an example of polynomials. both monomial and polynomial are algebraic expression of positive exponent. terms in algebraic expression are separated by a plus or minus sign

Nov 19, 2010
by: Tyliyah

This Really Hepled Me On My Homework!And i will keep this site in mind now , Thank youu soo much.

Nov 05, 2010
by: Natasha

this post helped me so much! i was searching for this question for hours, when finally i came to this site- it helped me so much by breaking it down and using simple words!thx!

Jun 07, 2010
Thank You
by: Anonymous

Thank you for helping me understand this topic. IT was quite helpful.

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