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PEMDAS (or what others remember as Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally) is simply an acronym which stands for ‘Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction’. If you have a number sentence with two or more operations, the order of the letters in PEMDAS tells you how to go about these operations. It tells you what to calculate first, second, third and so on, until everything is done.
PEMDAS serves as a guideline so all of us can obtain only one correct answer in a math expression. Without PEMDAS, we can end up having two or more different answers to a single equation.
For example, 5 + 4 x 3 = ?
- We can do the addition first and get: 9 x 3 = 27
- or we can do the multiplication first and get 5 + 12 = 17