If you’re unsure about the difference between rational and irrational numbers, keep reading to discover a simple guide to understanding the key differences between rational and irrational numbers.

What is the difference between rational and irrational numbers?

The primary difference between irrational numbers and rational numbers is that a rational number can be easily expressed as a whole fraction.

A rational number can always be turned into a fraction, which has both a full numerator number and a full denominator number. While an irrational number can’t be expressed as a whole fraction and can’t be written down as a simple ratio of two integers.

Are there any other noticeable differences between rational and irrational numbers.

Yes, while irrational numbers can’t be written down as simple, whole fractions, irrational numbers can easily be expressed as decimal numbers.

Furthermore an irrational number features endless non repeating digits after it’s decimal point. An example of an irrational number is pi which is most commonly shortened to 3.14159. Keep in mind that it is impossible to express a never ending decimal number such as pi with a simple fraction.

To cement the knowledge that you’ve just read, another example of a recurring infinite decimal number, which can be referred to accurately as a rational number is the golden ratio, which is sometimes shortened to 2.7182818.

Everything you need to know about the major differences between rational and irrational numbers:

1. There are infinite irrational numbers

You may be surprised to hear that there is at least one irrational number between any two rational numbers.

2. Every whole number is a rational number.

If you’re confused about whether the number zero is a rational number, the answer is yes because zero and any other whole number can be divided by the number one, which makes zero a rational number.

3. Decimal numbers tend to be irrational numbers, however there are exceptions

Decimal numbers such as pi also tend to be irrational numbers as they aren’t whole numbers and therefore can’t be divided using a whole numerator and a whole denominator.

However there are exceptions. As an example, recurring decimal numbers such as 0.26262626 are rational numbers.

If in doubt, remember that decimals which are infinite and don’t feature a number sequence are irrational numbers, while decimal numbers which feature recurring numbers such as 0.26262626 are always classed as rational numbers.

4. Negative whole numbers are also classified as being rational numbers

If you were confused by negative whole numbers and whether they are rational numbers or irrational numbers the answer is that negative numbers such as -6 can still be easily divided by themselves and therefore can be expressed by whole fractions and are rational numbers.

5. Square roots can also be irrational numbers

Another example of a common irrational number which has not been discussed above are square roots, which can also be irrational numbers.

After reading the definitions and tips which were listed above, you should now be confident about being able to class both rational numbers and irrational numbers.