5. Trigonometry

5.1 Use Properties of Angles, Triangles, and the Pythagorean Theorem

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section it is expected that you will be able to

  • Use the properties of angles
  • Use the properties of triangles
  • Use the Pythagorean Theorem

Use the Properties of Angles

Are you familiar with the phrase ‘do a 180\text{'?} It means to make a full turn so that you face the opposite direction. It comes from the fact that the measure of an angle that makes a straight line is 180 degrees. See (Figure 1).

The image is a straight line with an arrow on each end. There is a dot in the center. There is an arrow pointing from one side of the dot to the other, and the angle is marked as 180 degrees.
Figure 1

An angle is formed by two rays that share a common endpoint. Each ray is called a side of the angle and the common endpoint is called the vertex. An angle is named by its vertex. In (Figure 2), \angle A is the angle with vertex at point A. The measure of \angle A is written m\angle A.

\angle A is the angle with vertex at \text{point}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}A.
The image is an angle made up of two rays. The angle is labeled with letter A.
Figure 2

We measure angles in degrees, and use the symbol °  to represent degrees. We use the abbreviation m to for the measure of an angle. So if \angle A is 27°, we would write m\angle A=27.

If the sum of the measures of two angles is \text{180}°, then they are called supplementary angles. In (Figure 3), each pair of angles is supplementary because their measures add to \text{180}°. Each angle is the supplement of the other.

The sum of the measures of supplementary angles is \text{180}°.
Part a shows a 120 degree angle next to a 60 degree angle. Together, the angles form a straight line. Below the image, it reads 120 degrees plus 60 degrees equals 180 degrees. Part b shows a 45 degree angle attached to a 135 degree angle. Together, the angles form a straight line. Below the image, it reads 45 degrees plus 135 degrees equals 180 degrees.
Figure 3

If the sum of the measures of two angles is \text{90}°, then the angles are complementary angles. In (Figure 4), each pair of angles is complementary, because their measures add to \text{90}°. Each angle is the complement of the other.

The sum of the measures of complementary angles is \text{90}°.
Part a shows a 50 degree angle next to a 40 degree angle. Together, the angles form a right angle. Below the image, it reads 50 degrees plus 40 degrees equals 90 degrees. Part b shows a 60 degree angle attached to a 30 degree angle. Together, the angles form a right angle. Below the image, it reads 60 degrees plus 30 degrees equals 90 degrees.
Figure 4

Supplementary and Complementary Angles

If the sum of the measures of two angles is \text{180}°, then the angles are supplementary.

If \angle A and \angle B are supplementary, then m\angle A+m\angle B=\text{180}°.

If the sum of the measures of two angles is \text{90}°, then the angles are complementary.

If \angle A and \angle B are complementary, then m\angle A+m\angle B=\text{90}°.

In this section and the next, you will be introduced to some common geometry formulas. We will adapt our Problem Solving Strategy for Geometry Applications. The geometry formula will name the variables and give us the equation to solve.

In addition, since these applications will all involve geometric shapes, it will be helpful to draw a figure and then label it with the information from the problem. We will include this step in the Problem Solving Strategy for Geometry Applications.

HOW TO: Use a Problem Solving Strategy for Geometry Applications

  1. Read the problem and make sure you understand all the words and ideas. Draw a figure and label it with the given information.
  2. Identify what you are looking for.
  3. Name what you are looking for and choose a variable to represent it.
  4. Translate into an equation by writing the appropriate formula or model for the situation. Substitute in the given information.
  5. Solve the equation using good algebra techniques.
  6. Check the answer in the problem and make sure it makes sense.
  7. Answer the question with a complete sentence.

The next example will show how you can use the Problem Solving Strategy for Geometry Applications to answer questions about supplementary and complementary angles.

EXAMPLE 1

An angle measures \text{40}°. Find a) its supplement, and b) its complement.

Solution
a)
Step 1. Read the problem. Draw the figure and label it with the given information. .
Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. .
Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent it. .
Step 4. Translate.
Write the appropriate formula for the situation and substitute in the given information.
.
.
Step 5. Solve the equation. .
Step 6. Check:
.
.
Step 7. Answer the question. .
b)
Step 1. Read the problem. Draw the figure and label it with the given information. .
Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. .
Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent it. .
Step 4. Translate.
Write the appropriate formula for the situation and substitute in the given information.
.
Step 5. Solve the equation. .
.
Step 6. Check:
.
.
Step 7. Answer the question. .

TRY IT 1

An angle measures \text{25}°. Find its: a) supplement b) complement.

Show answer
  1. 155°
  2. 65°

Did you notice that the words complementary and supplementary are in alphabetical order just like 90 and 180 are in numerical order?

EXAMPLE 2

Two angles are supplementary. The larger angle is \text{30}° more than the smaller angle. Find the measure of both angles.

Solution

Step 1. Read the problem. Draw the figure and label it with the given information. .
Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. .
Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent it.
The larger angle is 30° more than the smaller angle.
.
.
Step 4. Translate.
Write the appropriate formula and substitute.
.
Step 5. Solve the equation. .
.
.
.
.
.
.
Step 6. Check:
.
.
.
Step 7. Answer the question. .

TRY IT 2

Two angles are supplementary. The larger angle is \text{100}° more than the smaller angle. Find the measures of both angles.

Show answer

40°, 140°

Use the Properties of Triangles

What do you already know about triangles? Triangle have three sides and three angles. Triangles are named by their vertices. The triangle in (Figure 5) is called \Delta ABC, read ‘triangle \text{ABC}’. We label each side with a lower case letter to match the upper case letter of the opposite vertex.

\Delta ABC has vertices A,B,\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{and}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}C and sides a,b,\text{and}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}c\text{.}
The vertices of the triangle on the left are labeled A, B, and C. The sides are labeled a, b, and c.
Figure 5

The three angles of a triangle are related in a special way. The sum of their measures is \text{180}°.

m\angle A+m\angle B+m\angle C=\text{180}°

Sum of the Measures of the Angles of a Triangle

For any \Delta ABC, the sum of the measures of the angles is \text{180}°.

m\angle A+m\angle B+m\angle C=\text{180}°

EXAMPLE 3

The measures of two angles of a triangle are \text{55}° and \text{82}°. Find the measure of the third angle.

Solution

Step 1. Read the problem. Draw the figure and label it with the given information. .
Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. .
Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent it. .
Step 4. Translate.
Write the appropriate formula and substitute.
.
Step 5. Solve the equation. .
.
.
Step 6. Check:
.
.
Step 7. Answer the question. .

TRY IT 3

The measures of two angles of a triangle are \text{31}° and \text{128}°. Find the measure of the third angle.

Show answer

21°

Right Triangles

Some triangles have special names. We will look first at the right triangle. A right triangle has one \text{90}° angle, which is often marked with the symbol shown in (Figure 6).

A right triangle is shown. The right angle is marked with a box and labeled 90 degrees.
Figure 6

If we know that a triangle is a right triangle, we know that one angle measures \text{90}° so we only need the measure of one of the other angles in order to determine the measure of the third angle.

EXAMPLE 4

One angle of a right triangle measures \text{28}°. What is the measure of the third angle?

Solution

Step 1. Read the problem. Draw the figure and label it with the given information. .
Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. .
Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent it. .
Step 4. Translate.
Write the appropriate formula and substitute.
.
Step 5. Solve the equation. .
.
.
Step 6. Check:
.
.
Step 7. Answer the question. .

TRY IT 4

One angle of a right triangle measures \text{56}°. What is the measure of the other angle?

Show answer

34°

In the examples so far, we could draw a figure and label it directly after reading the problem. In the next example, we will have to define one angle in terms of another. So we will wait to draw the figure until we write expressions for all the angles we are looking for.

EXAMPLE 5

The measure of one angle of a right triangle is \text{20}° more than the measure of the smallest angle. Find the measures of all three angles.

Solution

Step 1. Read the problem.
Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. the measures of all three angles
Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent it.

Now draw the figure and label it with the given information.

.
.
.
.
Step 4. Translate.
Write the appropriate formula and substitute into the formula.
.
.
Step 5. Solve the equation. .
.
.
.
.
.
.
Step 6. Check:
.
.
Step 7. Answer the question. .

TRY IT 5

The measure of one angle of a right triangle is \text{50}° more than the measure of the smallest angle. Find the measures of all three angles.

Show answer

20°, 70°, 90°

Similar Triangles

When we use a map to plan a trip, a sketch to build a bookcase, or a pattern to sew a dress, we are working with similar figures. In geometry, if two figures have exactly the same shape but different sizes, we say they are similar figures. One is a scale model of the other. The corresponding sides of the two figures have the same ratio, and all their corresponding angles are have the same measures.

The two triangles in (Figure 7) are similar. Each side of \Delta ABC is four times the length of the corresponding side of \Delta XYZ and their corresponding angles have equal measures.

\Delta ABC and \Delta XYZ are similar triangles. Their corresponding sides have the same ratio and the corresponding angles have the same measure.

Two triangles are shown. They appear to be the same shape, but the triangle on the right is smaller. The vertices of the triangle on the left are labeled A, B, and C. The side across from A is labeled 16, the side across from B is labeled 20, and the side across from C is labeled 12. The vertices of the triangle on the right are labeled X, Y, and Z. The side across from X is labeled 4, the side across from Y is labeled 5, and the side across from Z is labeled 3. Beside the triangles, it says that the measure of angle A equals the measure of angle X, the measure of angle B equals the measure of angle Y, and the measure of angle C equals the measure of angle Z. Below this is the proportion 16 over 4 equals 20 over 5 equals 12 over 3.
Figure 7

Properties of Similar Triangles

If two triangles are similar, then their corresponding angle measures are equal and their corresponding side lengths are in the same ratio.

...

The length of a side of a triangle may be referred to by its endpoints, two vertices of the triangle. For example, in \Delta ABC\text{:}

\phantom{\rule{2em}{0ex}}\begin{array}{c}\text{the length}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}a\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{can also be written}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}BC\hfill \\ \text{the length}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}b\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{can also be written}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}AC\hfill \\ \text{the length}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}c\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{can also be written}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}AB\hfill \end{array}

We will often use this notation when we solve similar triangles because it will help us match up the corresponding side lengths.

EXAMPLE 6

\Delta ABC and \Delta XYZ are similar triangles. The lengths of two sides of each triangle are shown. Find the lengths of the third side of each triangle.

Two triangles are shown. They appear to be the same shape, but the triangle on the right is smaller. The vertices of the triangle on the left are labeled A, B, and C. The side across from A is labeled a, the side across from B is labeled 3.2, and the side across from C is labeled 4. The vertices of the triangle on the right are labeled X, Y, and Z. The side across from X is labeled 4.5, the side across from Y is labeled y, and the side across from Z is labeled 3.

Solution

Step 1. Read the problem. Draw the figure and label it with the given information. The figure is provided.
Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. The length of the sides of similar triangles
Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent it. Let
a = length of the third side of \Delta ABC
y = length of the third side \Delta XYZ
Step 4. Translate. The triangles are similar, so the corresponding sides are in the same ratio. So \frac{AB}{XY}=\frac{BC}{YZ}=\frac{AC}{XZ}

Since the side AB=4 corresponds to the side XY=3, we will use the ratio \frac{\mathrm{AB}}{\mathrm{XY}}=\frac{4}{3} to find the other sides.

Be careful to match up corresponding sides correctly.

.

Step 5. Solve the equation.  

.

Step 6. Check.
.
Step 7. Answer the question. The third side of \Delta ABC is 6 and the third side of \Delta XYZ is 2.4.

TRY IT 6

\Delta ABC is similar to \Delta XYZ. Find a.

Two triangles are shown. They appear to be the same shape, but the triangle on the right is larger The vertices of the triangle on the left are labeled A, B, and C. The side across from A is labeled a, the side across from B is labeled 15, and the side across from C is labeled 17. The vertices of the triangle on the right are labeled X, Y, and Z. The side across from X is labeled 12, the side across from Y is labeled y, and the side across from Z is labeled 25.5.

Show answer

8

Use the Pythagorean Theorem

The Pythagorean Theorem is a special property of right triangles that has been used since ancient times. It is named after the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras who lived around 500 BCE.

Remember that a right triangle has a \text{90}° angle, which we usually mark with a small square in the corner. The side of the triangle opposite the \text{90}° angle is called the hypotenuse, and the other two sides are called the legs. See (Figure 8).

In a right triangle, the side opposite the \text{90}° angle is called the hypotenuse and each of the other sides is called a leg.

Three right triangles are shown. Each has a box representing the right angle. The first one has the right angle in the lower left corner, the next in the upper left corner, and the last one at the top. The two sides touching the right angle are labeled “leg” in each triangle. The sides across from the right angles are labeled “hypotenuse.”
Figure 8

The Pythagorean Theorem tells how the lengths of the three sides of a right triangle relate to each other. It states that in any right triangle, the sum of the squares of the two legs equals the square of the hypotenuse.

The Pythagorean Theorem

In any right triangle \Delta ABC,

{a}^{2}+{b}^{2}={c}^{2}

where c is the length of the hypotenuse a and b are the lengths of the legs.

A right triangle is shown. The right angle is marked with a box. Across from the box is side c. The sides touching the right angle are marked a and b.

To solve problems that use the Pythagorean Theorem, we will need to find square roots. We defined the notation \sqrt{m}  in this way:

\text{If}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}m={n}^{2},\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{then}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\sqrt{m}=n\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{for}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}n\ge 0

For example, we found that \sqrt{25} is 5 because {5}^{2}=25.

We will use this definition of square roots to solve for the length of a side in a right triangle.

EXAMPLE 7

Use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the length of the hypotenuse.

Right triangle with legs labeled as 3 and 4.

Solution

Step 1. Read the problem.
Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. the length of the hypotenuse of the triangle
Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent it. Let c=\text{the length of the hypotenuse}
.
Step 4. Translate.
Write the appropriate formula.
Substitute.
.
Step 5. Solve the equation. .
Step 6. Check:
.
Step 7. Answer the question. The length of the hypotenuse is 5.

TRY IT 7

Use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the length of the hypotenuse.

A right triangle is shown. The right angle is marked with a box. Across from the box is side c. The sides touching the right angle are marked 6 and 8.

Show answer

10

EXAMPLE 8

Use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the length of the longer leg.

Right triangle is shown with one leg labeled as 5 and hypotenuse labeled as 13.

Solution

Step 1. Read the problem.
Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. The length of the leg of the triangle
Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent it. Let b=\text{the leg of the triangle}
Label side b
.
Step 4. Translate.
Write the appropriate formula. Substitute.
.
Step 5. Solve the equation. Isolate the variable term. Use the definition of the square root.
Simplify.
.
Step 6. Check: .
Step 7. Answer the question. The length of the leg is 12.

TRY IT 8

Use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the length of the leg.

A right triangle is shown. The right angle is marked with a box. The side across from the right angle is labeled as 17. One of the sides touching the right angle is labeled as 15, the other is labeled “b”.

Show answer

8

EXAMPLE 9

Kelvin is building a gazebo and wants to brace each corner by placing a \text{10-inch} wooden bracket diagonally as shown. How far below the corner should he fasten the bracket if he wants the distances from the corner to each end of the bracket to be equal? Approximate to the nearest tenth of an inch.

A picture of a gazebo is shown. Beneath the roof is a rectangular shape. There are two braces from the top to each side. The brace on the left is labeled as 10 inches. From where the brace hits the side to the roof is labeled as x.

Solution

Step 1. Read the problem.
Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. the distance from the corner that the bracket should be attached
Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent it. Let x = the distance from the corner
.
Step 4. Translate.
Write the appropriate formula.
Substitute.
.
Step 5. Solve the equation.
Isolate the variable.
Use the definition of the square root.
Simplify. Approximate to the nearest tenth.
.
Step 6. Check:
.
Yes.
Step 7. Answer the question. Kelvin should fasten each piece of wood approximately 7.1″ from the corner.

TRY IT 9

John puts the base of a \text{13-ft} ladder 5 feet from the wall of his house. How far up the wall does the ladder reach?

A picture of a house is shown. There is a ladder leaning against the side of the house. The ladder is labeled 13 feet. The horizontal distance from the ladder's base to the house is labeled 5 feet.

Show answer

12 feet

Key Concepts

  • Supplementary and Complementary Angles
    • If the sum of the measures of two angles is 180°, then the angles are supplementary.
    • If \angle A and \angle B are supplementary, then m\angle A+m\angle B=180.
    • If the sum of the measures of two angles is 90°, then the angles are complementary.
    • If \angle A and \angle B are complementary, then m\angle A+m\angle B=90.
  • Solve Geometry Applications
    1. Read the problem and make sure you understand all the words and ideas. Draw a figure and label it with the given information.
    2. Identify what you are looking for.
    3. Name what you are looking for and choose a variable to represent it.
    4. Translate into an equation by writing the appropriate formula or model for the situation. Substitute in the given information.
    5. Solve the equation using good algebra techniques.
    6. Check the answer in the problem and make sure it makes sense.
    7. Answer the question with a complete sentence.
  • ..Sum of the Measures of the Angles of a Triangle
    • For any \Delta ABC, the sum of the measures is 180°
    • m\angle A+m\angle B=180
  • .Right Triangle
    • A right triangle is a triangle that has one 90° angle, which is often marked with a ⦜ symbol.
  • Properties of Similar Triangles
    • If two triangles are similar, then their corresponding angle measures are equal and their corresponding side lengths have the same ratio.

Glossary

angle
An angle is formed by two rays that share a common endpoint. Each ray is called a side of the angle.
complementary angles
If the sum of the measures of two angles is \text{90}°, then they are called complementary angles.
hypotenuse
The side of the triangle opposite the 90° angle is called the hypotenuse.
legs of a right triangle
The sides of a right triangle adjacent to the right angle are called the legs.
right triangle
A right triangle is a triangle that has one \text{90}° angle.
similar figures
In geometry, if two figures have exactly the same shape but different sizes, we say they are similar figures.
supplementary angles
If the sum of the measures of two angles is \text{180}°, then they are called supplementary angles.
triangle
A triangle is a geometric figure with three sides and three angles.
vertex of an angle
When two rays meet to form an angle, the common endpoint is called the vertex of the angle.

5.1 Exercise Set

In the following exercises, find a) the supplement and b) the complement of the given angle.

  1. 53°
  2. 29°

In the following exercises, use the properties of angles to solve.

  1. Find the supplement of a 135° angle.
  2. Find the complement of a 27.5° angle.
  3. Two angles are supplementary. The larger angle is 56° more than the smaller angle. Find the measures of both angles.
  4. Two angles are complementary. The smaller angle is 34° less than the larger angle. Find the measures of both angles.

In the following exercises, solve using properties of triangles.

  1. The measures of two angles of a triangle are 26° and 98°. Find the measure of the third angle.
  2. The measures of two angles of a triangle are 105° and 31°. Find the measure of the third angle.
  3. One angle of a right triangle measures 33°. What is the measure of the other angle?
  4. One angle of a right triangle measures 22.5°. What is the measure of the other angle?
  5. The two smaller angles of a right triangle have equal measures. Find the measures of all three angles.
  6. The angles in a triangle are such that the measure of one angle is twice the measure of the smallest angle, while the measure of the third angle is three times the measure of the smallest angle. Find the measures of all three angles.

In the following exercises, \Delta ABC is similar to \Delta XYZ. Find the length of the indicated side.

Two triangles are shown. They appear to be the same shape, but the triangle on the right is smaller. The vertices of the triangle on the left are labeled A, B, and C. The side across from A is labeled 9, the side across from B is labeled b, and the side across from C is labeled 15. The vertices of the triangle on the right are labeled X, Y, and Z. The side across from X is labeled x, the side across from Y is labeled 8, and the side across from Z is labeled 10.

  1. side b

On a map, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles form a triangle whose sides are shown in the figure below. The actual distance from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is 270 miles.

A triangle is shown. The vertices are labeled San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The side across from San Francisco is labeled 1 inch, the side across from Las Vegas is labeled 1.3 inches, and the side across from Los Angeles is labeled 2.1 inches.

  1. Find the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

In the following exercises, use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the length of the hypotenuse.

15.

A right triangle is shown. The right angle is marked with a box. One of the sides touching the right angle is labeled as 9, the other as 12.

16. 

A right triangle is shown. The right angle is marked with a box. One of the sides touching the right angle is labeled as 15, the other as 20.

In the following exercises, use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the length of the missing side. Round to the nearest tenth, if necessary.

17.

A right triangle is shown. The right angle is marked with a box. The side across from the right angle is labeled as 10. One of the sides touching the right angle is labeled as 6.

18.

A right triangle is shown. The right angle is marked with a box. The side across from the right angle is labeled as 13. One of the sides touching the right angle is labeled as 5.

19.

A right triangle is shown. The right angle is marked with a box. The side across from the right angle is labeled as 13. One of the sides touching the right angle is labeled as 8.

20.

A right triangle is shown. The right angle is marked with a box. The side across from the right angle is labeled as 17. One of the sides touching the right angle is labeled as 15.

In the following exercises, solve. Approximate to the nearest tenth, if necessary.

21. A \text{13-foot} string of lights will be attached to the top of a \text{12-foot} pole for a holiday display. How far from the base of the pole should the end of the string of lights be anchored?

A vertical pole is shown with a string of lights going from the top of the pole to the ground. The pole is labeled 12 feet. The string of lights is labeled 13 feet.

22. Chi is planning to put a path of paving stones through her flower garden. The flower garden is a square with sides of 10 feet. What will the length of the path be?

A square garden is shown. One side is labeled as 10 feet. There is a diagonal path of blue circular stones going from the lower left corner to the upper right corner.

  1. Building a scale model Joe wants to build a doll house for his daughter. He wants the doll house to look just like his house. His house is 30 feet wide and 35 feet tall at the highest point of the roof. If the dollhouse will be 2.5 feet wide, how tall will its highest point be?

Answers:

    1. 127°
    2. 37°
    1. 151°
    2. 61°
  1. 45°
  2. 62.5°
  3. 62°, 118°
  4. 62°, 28°
  5. 56°
  6. 44°
  7. 57°
  8. 67.5°
  9. 45°, 45°, 90°
  10. 30°, 60°, 90°
  11. 12
  12. 351 miles
  13. 15
  14. 25
  15. 8
  16. 12
  17. 10.2
  18. 8
  19. 21.5 feet
  20. 14.1 feet
  21. 2.9 feet

Attributions:

This chapter has been adapted from “Use Properties of Angles, Triangles, and the Pythagorean Theorem” in Prealgebra (OpenStax) by Lynn Marecek, MaryAnne Anthony-Smith, and Andrea Honeycutt Mathis, which is under a CC BY 4.0 Licence. Adapted by Izabela Mazur. See the Adaptation Statement for more information.

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Business/Technical Mathematics by Izabela Mazur and Kim Moshenko is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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