Polynomials
52 Divide Polynomials
Learning Objectives
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
 Divide a polynomial by a monomial
 Divide a polynomial by a binomial
Before you get started, take this readiness quiz.
Divide a Polynomial by a Monomial
In the last section, you learned how to divide a monomial by a monomial. As you continue to build up your knowledge of polynomials the next procedure is to divide a polynomial of two or more terms by a monomial.
The method we’ll use to divide a polynomial by a monomial is based on the properties of fraction addition. So we’ll start with an example to review fraction addition.
The sum,  
simplifies to 
Now we will do this in reverse to split a single fraction into separate fractions.
We’ll state the fraction addition property here just as you learned it and in reverse.
If are numbers where , then
We use the form on the left to add fractions and we use the form on the right to divide a polynomial by a monomial.
For example,  
can be written 
We use this form of fraction addition to divide polynomials by monomials.
To divide a polynomial by a monomial, divide each term of the polynomial by the monomial.
Find the quotient:
Divide each term of the numerator by the denominator.  
Simplify each fraction. 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Remember that division can be represented as a fraction. When you are asked to divide a polynomial by a monomial and it is not already in fraction form, write a fraction with the polynomial in the numerator and the monomial in the denominator.
Find the quotient:
Rewrite as a fraction.  
Divide each term of the numerator by the denominator.  
Simplify. 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
When we divide by a negative, we must be extra careful with the signs.
Find the quotient:
Divide each term of the numerator by the denominator.  
Simplify. Remember, subtracting a negative is like adding a positive! 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Separate the terms.  
Simplify. 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Rewrite as a fraction.  
Separate the terms.  
Simplify. 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Separate the terms.  
Simplify. 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Separate the terms.  
Simplify. 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Divide a Polynomial by a Binomial
To divide a polynomial by a binomial, we follow a procedure very similar to long division of numbers. So let’s look carefully the steps we take when we divide a 3digit number, 875, by a 2digit number, 25.
We write the long division  
We divide the first two digits, 87, by 25.  
We multiply 3 times 25 and write the product under the 87.  
Now we subtract 75 from 87.  
Then we bring down the third digit of the dividend, 5.  
Repeat the process, dividing 25 into 125. 
We check division by multiplying the quotient by the divisor.
If we did the division correctly, the product should equal the dividend.
Now we will divide a trinomial by a binomial. As you read through the example, notice how similar the steps are to the numerical example above.
Find the quotient:
Write it as a long division problem.  
Be sure the dividend is in standard form.  
Divide x^{2} by x. It may help to ask yourself, “What do I need to multiply x by to get x^{2}?”  
Put the answer, x, in the quotient over the x term.  
Multiply x times x + 5. Line up the like terms under the dividend.  
Subtract x^{2} + 5x from x^{2} + 9x.  
Then bring down the last term, 20. 

Divide 4x by x. It may help to ask yourself, “What do I need to multiply x by to get 4x?” 

Put the answer, 4, in the quotient over the constant term.  
Multiply 4 times x + 5.  
Subtract 4x + 20 from 4x + 20.  
Check:  
Multiply the quotient by the divisor.  
(x + 4)(x + 5)  
You should get the dividend.  
x^{2} + 9x + 20✓ 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
When the divisor has subtraction sign, we must be extra careful when we multiply the partial quotient and then subtract. It may be safer to show that we change the signs and then add.
Find the quotient:
Write it as a long division problem.  
Be sure the dividend is in standard form.  
Divide 2x^{2} by x. Put the answer, 2x, in the quotient over the x term. 

Multiply 2x times x − 3. Line up the like terms under the dividend.  
Subtract 2x^{2} − 6x from 2x^{2} − 5x. Change the signs and then add. Then bring down the last term. 

Divide x by x. Put the answer, 1, in the quotient over the constant term. 

Multiply 1 times x − 3.  
Subtract x − 3 from x − 3 by changing the signs and adding.  
To check, multiply (x − 3)(2x + 1).  
The result should be 2x^{2} − 5x − 3. 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
When we divided 875 by 25, we had no remainder. But sometimes division of numbers does leave a remainder. The same is true when we divide polynomials. In (Figure), we’ll have a division that leaves a remainder. We write the remainder as a fraction with the divisor as the denominator.
Find the quotient:
Write it as a long division problem.  
Be sure the dividend is in standard form.  
Divide x^{3} by x. Put the answer, x^{2}, in the quotient over the x^{2} term. Multiply x^{2} times x + 1. Line up the like terms under the dividend. 

Subtract x^{3} + x^{2} from x^{3} − x^{2} by changing the signs and adding. Then bring down the next term. 

Divide −2x^{2} by x. Put the answer, −2x, in the quotient over the x term. Multiply −2x times x + 1. Line up the like terms under the dividend. 

Subtract −2x^{2} − 2x from −2x^{2} + x by changing the signs and adding. Then bring down the last term. 

Divide 3x by x. Put the answer, 3, in the quotient over the constant term. Multiply 3 times x + 1. Line up the like terms under the dividend. 

Subtract 3x + 3 from 3x + 4 by changing the signs and adding. Write the remainder as a fraction with the divisor as the denominator. 

To check, multiply The result should be . 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Look back at the dividends in (Figure), (Figure), and (Figure). The terms were written in descending order of degrees, and there were no missing degrees. The dividend in (Figure) will be . It is missing an term. We will add in as a placeholder.
Find the quotient:
Notice that there is no term in the dividend. We will add as a placeholder.
Write it as a long division problem. Be sure the dividend is in standard form with placeholders for missing terms.  
Divide x^{4} by x. Put the answer, x^{3}, in the quotient over the x^{3} term. Multiply x^{3} times x + 2. Line up the like terms. Subtract and then bring down the next term. 

Divide −2x^{3} by x. Put the answer, −2x^{2}, in the quotient over the x^{2} term. Multiply −2x^{2} times x + 1. Line up the like terms. Subtract and bring down the next term. 

Divide 3x^{2} by x. Put the answer, 3x, in the quotient over the x term. Multiply 3x times x + 1. Line up the like terms. Subtract and bring down the next term. 

Divide −x by x. Put the answer, −1, in the quotient over the constant term. Multiply −1 times x + 1. Line up the like terms. Change the signs, add. 

To check, multiply .  
The result should be . 
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
In (Figure), we will divide by . As we divide we will have to consider the constants as well as the variables.
Find the quotient:
This time we will show the division all in one step. We need to add two placeholders in order to divide.
To check, multiply .
The result should be .
Find the quotient:
Find the quotient:
Access these online resources for additional instruction and practice with dividing polynomials:
Key Concepts
 Fraction Addition
 If are numbers where , then
 If are numbers where , then
 Division of a Polynomial by a Monomial
 To divide a polynomial by a monomial, divide each term of the polynomial by the monomial.
Practice Makes Perfect
In the following exercises, divide each polynomial by the monomial.
Divide a Polynomial by a Binomial
In the following exercises, divide each polynomial by the binomial.
Everyday Math
Average cost Pictures Plus produces digital albums. The company’s average cost (in dollars) to make albums is given by the expression .
 ⓐ Find the quotient by dividing the numerator by the denominator.
 ⓑ What will the average cost (in dollars) be to produce 20 albums?
Handshakes At a company meeting, every employee shakes hands with every other employee. The number of handshakes is given by the expression , where represents the number of employees. How many handshakes will there be if there are 10 employees at the meeting?
45
Writing Exercises
James divides by 6 this way: . What is wrong with his reasoning?
Divide and explain with words how you get each term of the quotient.
Answers will vary.
Self Check
ⓐ After completing the exercises, use this checklist to evaluate your mastery of the objectives of this section.
ⓑ After reviewing this checklist, what will you do to become confident for all goals?