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Words to know for Maths Questions II – Prove, Show, Hence

Words to know for Maths questions

The post before last, I gave a few words to know for Maths Questions, and today I carry on with that.

The first post was about words that describe the answers we should give.  Today’s words are about how to tackle the question.

Questions that use the words like prove and show that gives you the end point – the answer – in the question. The requirement then is to show understanding of how to get to the answer.

We are all told that it is important to ‘show our working’ but in this type of question a prove question, its the ‘working’ that is the point.  You need to show each step of the process of getting to the answer. Its fair to say that ‘Mathematical Proof’  is a rigorous process.

The further you go in Mathematics, the more important ‘Proof’ is compared to ‘doing sums’  – especially in what is called ‘Pure Mathematics’.  This was we get results, or answers, that can be reused many times in other questions.    I’ll write another Post on Proofs later but here is a link to some examples of proofs.

Two more useful words

The other words I want to mention today are Hence and Otherwise. Hence is a very helpful word because if you heed it, you will save time in answering a question.

A simple example would be a question like this

The question here says, solve the second part using your

Factorised Equation
The factorisation of a quadratic

answer to the first.

I think with this question, we would do it this way anyway, but the word Hence is more than a big clue, it is an instruction to use the first part.


The alternative is Hence or Otherwise.  Questions with this wording also give a big clue that the quick way to answer is to use an earlier part of the question, but the otherwise lets the student find an alternative way.

My advice would be to look for a way to use the work you have already done. Its probably going to be quicker. Only go for otherwise if you really can’t see a way of doing this.

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