Primary students have to get used to Math from earlier stages. They learn the numbers, do the math with one or two number units, etc. 

Most students find it difficult to distinguish the greater than and less than symbol because they are pretty familiar. As taking it wrong, the student will be confused in the comparison, causing other mistakes in Math. 

As a result, I’ve decided to write this article to help you remember the symbol of these signs. Even if you are a student or parent looking for tips to remember them, you can try the methods below. It works well since educators have successfully applied it to many students in the school. 

What Are “Greater Than” & “Less Than”?

The “Greater than” symbols show a quantitative comparison between two numbers (in Math). In other words, it points out which number is bigger. For example, when you compare numbers three and five, the number five is, of course, bigger than number three. However, in Math, it is called “greater,” so you use the sign “>” to show this relationship between two numbers. 

In writing, you write, for example: 5 > 3; 6 > 2; 8 > 5

Contrarily, the “less than” shows the meaning that the number you pick is smaller than the compared target. In Math, it is called “less,” so you use the sign “<” to show this relationship between two numbers.

In writing, you write, for example: 3 < 5; 2 < 6; 5 < 8

So, are the symbols possible to show the continuous comparison of many numbers? The answer is that you can do it. Take a look at this sample: 3 < 5 < 6. In some ways, this is okay (if the teacher agrees with it), so you can spread it with multiple numbers and signs. 

Purpose Of Learning These Signs

In Math, learning greater than and less than signs is to know each number’s relationship. You can compare it and do other equations because these signs are the essentials for the equation.

For example, if you can have an equation like 3 < x < 5. To balance the equation, you can add more value to each side of the equation; for instance, we will add 2. As a result, we have 5 < x + 2 < 7. This equation is similar to the original one, and so on; you can develop it to solve for the final unknown number “x.” 

However, this knowledge is more complicated as primary students learn when they get higher grades. 

We know through the explanation above that the greater and less than signs have an essential role in developing logical thinking in Math. So, remember it is also vital not to let you make a fundamental mistake. 

If you refuse to learn Math, you still need to understand these signs. These signs are the most basic knowledge everyone needs to know. If someone shows their information, not by clear words “greater than, less than,” but with a symbol like “< and >.” How do you figure out the ideas that they are trying to transmit? 

Thus, greater than and less than signs are what you need to master from the earlier stages. 

Tips To Remember

There are many ways to master these signs. When I was a student, I found many methods not to mistake them together. These suggestions below have helped me do my homework with high accuracy. 

Understanding In-depth The Signs

Even if you use the signs in Math, understanding them to use is always the best way. So, how should you know them in-depth? 

Let me analyze the meaning of these symbols in the image. To do my homework with in-depth analysis, I have thought about why people choose these symbols to show greater than and less than. 

As you can see, the “>” symbol is likely the character V in the horizontal direction. Focus on its left side; you feel that the space is narrow gradually into the right, right? In the end, the space is eradicated because the two lines touch each other. Now, do you feel the difference? The space in the left hand is more than the space in the right hand. It shows the relationship from the bigger to the smaller and has a meaning of “greater than.” 

The “<” symbol has the same meaning as “less than.”. The fact is that there are numerous explanations for these signs. For example, you can base on the angle, the actual actions, or even explain it with a cake (the left side is always bigger than the right side). After understanding these signs with in-depth analysis, you will never fear it. 

Using The Alligator Trick

I had tried the Alligator tricks to get my homework done in the past. It is effective for helping the children in remembering these signs. 

Let me explain how it works. You will imagine the sign like an alligator when it opens its mouth. 

The key to remember: Alligator is a greedy animal who always chooses more fish. Therefore, when you see his mouth toward the corresponding side, it shows that the amount of fish on that side is larger than the left one. 

Kids cannot learn complicated and academic knowledge, so simplification is always a great idea to help them remember. 

Once you determine the bigger fish amount, you can use both direct speeches. For example, an alligator mouths towards the number five, and you say: “five is greater than three” or “three is less than five.”

We should use this alligator method with both left and right techniques. Yet, you can teach students this tip to make correct thoughts about the number comparison in the early stage. 

Left – Right Method

It was my favorite method when I was in primary school. I need to ensure my hands’ left and right sides and remember a key for these signs. 

  • The key: Greater than “>” is the left hand because the arrow points to the left. Less than “<” is the right hand because the arrow points to the right. 

Sound easy, right? 

Whenever I did Math, I raised my hands to figure out the direction, which helped get my homework done quickly. 

Pick-one Method

I tried many methods and figured out this one is also effective for helping me do my work. Instead of remembering two signs, I will only remember one. 

I started from the greater than sign “>” first. Then, I figured out which number was greater and put it in my left hand. Consequently, my comparison is always correct because it has a fixed rule. 

If I want to make a “less than” sign comparison, I will only turn what I do adversely. For example, from 5 > 3 (five is greater than three) to 3 < 5 (three is less than five), the greater than sign is turned to the less-than sign. 

Equal To Method

This method supports the earlier stages when children do not know when to use the greater than and less than signs. 

This method is simple as students will look at numbers and determine them. If they are the same, they put the equal sign. In case of difference, students know that there is one side greater. 

For example, with five on the right and three on the left, I know five is greater than three. It helped me do my work when I read the Math sentence correctly (generally read from left to right). It also contributes to remembering the signs, helping me do my work with high efficiency day by day. 

Greater/Less Than & Equal To

It is not difficult to understand the greater/less than and equal sign. This combination only adds one more slash on the bottom of the original sign. 

However, what most students are confused about is the different meanings. For example, some students write that five is greater than and equal to two. Although the first clause, “greater than,” is correct, the second is wrong. 

So, how to write it accurately. When you compare greater/less than and equal to, you need to pay attention to what you use. For instance, using numbers with this comparison will be wrong (the sample above has proved). When coming to higher education, most people will notice that the only way to use this comparison is to use a hidden number “x.” If you compare x with a number with greater/less than and equal to, it will become an equation. This knowledge is more complicated, so it will not be suitable for primary students.

At the earlier stages, you should only teach the children how to distinguish the greater than and less than signs and the ways to remember them well. 


Remember, the symbol of greater or less than is not a challenge. But, some people find that students will give up with Math if they are stuck on this issue. That is why the parents and teachers need to know what problem the students have to solve immediately. 

You can teach your kids these tips to help them with more interest in Math. The kids are excited when you turn the symbols into cute alligators. 

Hopefully, this article may assist you in overcoming your nightmare when you find it difficult to distinguish the greater than and less than signs.

Enjoy a favorite movie. Things get done when you come back

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