Greater Than and Less Than Symbols

Greater than and less than symbols are used to compare any two numbers.  When a number is bigger than another number greater than symbol is used and when a number is smaller than another number, then less than symbol is used. Mathematics is a language which has its own rules and formulas. The symbols used in maths are quite unique to all the fields and it is universally accepted. Usage of math symbols consumes less time and space. It allows an individual to share the information through symbolism.

Table of Contents:

Greater Than Less Than Symbols Definition

Greater than and less than symbols denotes an inequality between two values. The symbol used to denote greater than is “ >” and for less than is “<”. Get more math symbols here with us.

Greater Than Sign 

The greater than symbol in maths is placed between two values in which the first number is greater than the second number. For example 10 > 5. Here 10 is greater than 5. 

In inequality, greater than symbol is always pointed to the greater value and the symbol consisting of two equal length strokes connecting in an acute angle at the right. ( >). 

Less Than Sign

Similarly, less than symbol is placed between two numbers where the first number is less than the second number. Example for less than the inequality symbol is 5 < 10. It means that 5 is less than 10. 

In inequality, less than symbol points to the smaller value where the two equal length strokes connecting in an acute angle at the left (<).

This greater than less than symbol reduces the time complexity and it makes an easy way for the reader to understand.

Equal To Sign

The ‘equal to’ sign is used to show the equality between two numbers or values. This sign contradicts both greater than and less than sign. Even in terms of writing the equations, we use equal to sign. It is denoted by ‘=’.

Example: If a = 10 and b = 10, then a = b.

Trick to Remember Greater Than Less Than Sign

Generally, to remember the greater than and the less than a symbol, two methods are used. They are:

  • Alligator Method
  • L Method

Alligator Method

We know that the alligator (or crocodile) always want to eat a large number of fishes. So, the alligator mouth always opens towards the largest number. Now, imagine that the numbers on both the side represents the number of fishes. Let us take an example, 8 > 5

Here, the alligator mouth points towards 8. It means that 8 is greater than 5.

It means that 5 is less than 8. It is written as 5 < 8.

L Method

The letter “L” looks similar to the less than symbol “<“. You can remember the letter of the first letter of less than to the symbol. Example: 10 < 50

Summary – All the Symbols

Here, is the list of frequently used symbols in Maths explained along with the examples

Symbol Description

Symbol Notation


Greater than sign



Less than sign



Equal to sign



Not equal to sign

3+2 ≠ 4+2

Greater less or equal to

Students ≥ 50

Less than or equal to

Teachers ≤ 25

Applications of Greater Than Less Than Symbols in Algebra

As we know, mathematical problems do not always end with equality. Sometimes, it should have inequalities such as greater than or less than sign. The statement can be expressed using mathematical expression. 

For example, “x” is the number of students in a class. If there are more than 45 students in a class, and again 5 more students joined in your class, then there are more than 50 students in a class. This statement is mathematically expressed as x+5 >45

In mathematics, solving inequalities is similar to solving the equations. While working with inequality problems, always give attention to the inequalities direction. Some of the tricks which do not affect the direction of inequalities in a problem. They are

  • Multiply or divide the inequalities on both sides by the same positive number
  • Adding or subtracting the same number on both sides of the inequality expression

Greater Than Less Than Examples

Some of the examples greater than symbol are as follows

  • 4 > 1: 4 is greater than 1
  • 25 > 23 : 25 can be written as 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 =32 and 23 can be written as 2 x 2 x 2 =8. So 32 > 8 .Therefore 25 is greater than 23
  • 10/2 > 6/3: 10/2 equals to 5 and 6/3 equals to 2. So that, 5 > 2 which implies that 10/2 is greater than 6/3.
  • \(5\frac{1}{2} > 2\frac{2}{3}\) : In the mixed fractions, first convert into the fraction so that it becomes 11/2 > 8/3 which equals to 5.5 > 2.7.
  • 0.1 > 0.01: In number system, which consists of decimal numbers where the value 0.1 is greater than 0.01
  • 1 > -2: Here 1 is a positive integer and -2 is a negative integer. We know that the always positive integer is greater than the negative integer. So that 1 is greater than -2.
  • -2 > -5: Consider the negative integers, in which the smallest number has a greater value than the largest number. So we conclude that -2 is greater than -5.

Some of the examples for less than symbol are as follows

  • 2 < 3: Consider an integer, where 2 is less than 3
  • 32 < 35: Here 32 is written as 3 x 3 = 9 and 35 is written as 3 x 3 x 3 =27. So, 9 is less than 27. Also, we can say that 32 is less than 35.
  • ½ < 4/2: For a fraction, ½ which equals to 0.5 and 4/2 which equals to 2. Therefore 0.5 is less than 2 or we can say ½ is less than 4/2.
  • \(3\frac{1}{3} < 7\frac{1}{2}\): By converting mixed fraction into an improper fraction, 10/3 < 15/2 which equals to 3.33 < 7.5 .
  • 0.002 < 0.1: The decimal value 0.002 is less than 0.1
  • -3 < -1: In the given example of negative integers, where -1 has the greatest value. So we conclude that -3 is less than -1.

Word Problems on Greater than and Less than Symbols

Question 1:

Dizzy has fifteen bananas and Mansi has nineteen bananas. Find out who has more bananas.



Dizzy has 15 bananas.

Mansi has 19 bananas.

so, 19 is greater than 15, 19 >15

Therefore Mansi has more bananas than Dizzy.

Question 2 :

Dizzy sleeps for forty minutes and Mansi sleeps for fifty minutes every day in the afternoon. Find out who sleeps for less time.



Dizzy sleeps for 40 minutes

Mansi sleeps for  50 minutes

We know that 40 minutes is less than 50 minutes, so we can write it as 40 < 50

Therefore, Dizzy sleeps for less time.

Frequently Asked Questions on Greater Than and Less Than Symbol

When can we use greater than and less than symbol?

The greater than and less than symbols are generally used to represent the inequality expressions. The symbol used to represent greater than is “>” and less than is “<”. If one value is larger than the other value, we use greater than. Similarly, if we want to represent one value is less than the other value, we use less than. For example, 5 is greater than 5. It is mathematically expressed as 5>3. In the case of expressing 4 is less than 8, it is mathematically expressed as 4< 8.

Write down the different inequality symbols.

The different inequality symbols are:
Greater than (>)
Less than (<)
Not equal to (≠)
Greater than or equal to (≥)
Less than or equal to (≤)

Is 0.1 greater than 1?

No, 0.1 is not greater than 1. 0.1 is less than 1, and it is mathematically represented by 0.1<1.

How to remember the greater than and less than symbol?

The two general methods used to remember the greater than and less than symbol are:
Alligator method
L method

Is -0.1 is less than 0.1, if yes write down its mathematical expression?

Yes, -0.1 is less than 0.1. The mathematical expression for the given statement is -0.1 < 0.1.

For more information about equality and inequality symbols in mathematics, register with BYJU’S – The Learning App and watch interactive videos.

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