Q: What is a negative exponent? What does a negative exponent do?
A: A negative exponent is just notation that can be used to represent a reciprocal. Let me show you some examples:
x – 1 = 1/x1 or 1/x
x-2 = 1/x2
4 – 1 = 1/41 or 1/4
4 – 2 = 1/42 = 1/16
Those are the basics. Let’s look at a few more complicated examples of how negative exponents affect an expression:
3x – 4 = 3/x4
4x6y – 3 = 4x6/y3
OR… If the negative exponent is affecting something in a denominator, it will move it to the numerator like so:
1/x – 5 = 1*x5 = x5
6/y – 7 = 6y7
These are just a few basic examples to show you how negative exponents work. Of course things can get more difficult.