Difference between Factor and Term

Mathematics is an abstract science that works with numbers, symbols, and geometric figures to analyze their relationship to each other through logical reasoning. As many know, this science is crucial for the development of individuals, since everything that is around us is related to it. That is why it is relevant to know all the elements that make it up, in order to achieve skills and abilities in this area.

In that sense, there are four basic operations in mathematics: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, these are used to perform computations or mathematical calculations. More specifically, in multiplication there are two fundamental elements that differ from each other, the factor and the term. Each of them has peculiarities that distinguish them, so in this article we will show them based on the definition of both terms.


In mathematics, the factor is defined as a number that is part of another number through multiplication, for example:

  • In the mathematical operation 4 x 5 = 20, 4 and 5 are factors of the number 20, that is, they are part of it.

Factors are used to break down a number and to find common denominators to reduce fractions. It can also be said that all numbers have factors, including prime numbers, which are multiplied by 1 and by themselves to produce another number (for example: 1 x 21 = 21, 1 and 21 are factors of 21 ).

In the case of even numbers, they will all have 2 as a factor, therefore, they can be divided into two whole parts. Thus, when a multiplication is done, the numbers involved in said operation are called factors.

For example : 2 x 3 x 20. Each of them are factors.


Likewise, in mathematics, the term is any algebraic expression that is not separated by a positive or negative sign and that is made up of a literal part and a numerical part. For example: 2xy.

Additionally, a term is made up of several parts:

  • The literal part : is called a variable and generally, the last letters of the alphabet “x, y or z” are used.
  • The coefficient : is the numerical part and is represented by Arabic numerals and corresponds to the number of times that quantity must be added.
  • The algebraic term : is preceded by a sign (+ or -). When the sign is negative, the term is said to be negative, while if it has no sign, the term is understood to be positive.
  • Degree: the term has a degree, which is represented by the exponent that the literal has.

Finally, below are some differences that we found between the factor and the algebraic term used in mathematics:

Factor Finished
They are numbers that intervene in a multiplication. They are represented by a sign, a literal, a number, and an exponent.
They are part of another number. Its parts are not separated by positive or negative signs (+ or -).

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