**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/x^{1} or 1/x

x^{-2} = 1/x^{2}

4^{ – 1} = 1/4^{1} or 1/4

4^{ – 2} = 1/4^{2} = 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/x^{4}

4x^{6}y^{ – 3} = 4x^{6}/y^{3}

OR… If the negative exponent is affecting something in a denominator, it will move it to the numerator like so:

1/x^{ – 5} = 1*x^{5} = x^{5}

6/y^{ – 7} = 6y^{7}

These are just a few basic examples to show you how negative exponents work. Of course things can get more difficult.