Multiplying Binomials Topic Index | Algebra Index | Regents Exam Prep Center
 There are numerous ways to set up the multiplication of two binomials.  The first three methods shown here work for multiplying ALL polynomials, not just binomials.  All methods, of course, give the same answer. Multiply (x + 3)(x + 2)
 1.  "Distributive" Method: The most universal method.  Applies to all polynomial multiplications, not just to binomials.
 Start with the first term in the first binomial - the circled blue X.  Multiply (distribute) this term times EACH of the terms in the second binomial.  Now, take the second term in the first binomial - the circled red +3 (notice we take the sign also).  Multiply this term times EACH of the terms in the second binomial. Add the results:  x•x + x•2 + 3•x +3•2 x² + 2x +3x + 6 x² + 5x + 6  Answer Do you see the "distributive property" at work? (x + 3)(x + 2) = x(x + 2) + 3(x + 2)

Before we move on to the next set up method, let's look at an example of the "distributive" method involving negative values.

 "Distributive" Method: Dealing with negative values.
 Notice how the negative sign is treated as part of the term following the sign. Add the results:   x•x + x•(-5) +(-4)•x +(-4)•(-5) x² - 5x - 4x + 20 x² - 9x + 20  Answer

 2.  "Vertical" Method: This is a vertical "picture" of the distributive method. This style applies to all polynomial multiplications.

x + 2

x + 3

x² + 2x         multiply "x" from bottom term times "x+2"
 Be sure to line up the like terms. 3x + 6 multiply "3" from bottom term times "x+2" x² + 5x + 6 add the like terms

 3.  "Grid" Method This is a "table" version of the distributive method. This style applies to all polynomial multiplications.

To multiply by the grid method, place one binomial at the top of a 2x2 grid (for binomials) and the second binomial on the side of the grid.  Place the terms such that each term with its sign lines up with a row or column of the grid.  Multiply the rows and columns of the grid to complete the interior of the grid.  Finish by adding together the entries inside the grid.

2x + 6 + (x)(x) + 3x
2x + 6 + x2 + 3x

Answer:  x2 + 5x + 6

 C A U T I O N !!! There are set up methods that work ONLY for binomials.  While these set ups may be helpful to understanding binomial multiplication, you must remember that they do not extend to other types of multiplications, such as a binomial times a trinomial.  You will have to go back to the "distributive method" for these other polynomial multiplications.
For Binomial Multiplication ONLY!
"FOIL" Method:   multiply First Outer Inner Last
The words/letters used to describe the FOIL process pertain to the distributive method for multiplying two binomials.  These words/letters do not apply to other multiplications such as a binomial times a trinomial.

 F: (x + 3)(x + 2) O: (x + 3)(x + 2) I: (x + 3)(x + 2) L: (x + 3)(x + 2) The drawback to using the FOIL lettering is that it ONLY WORKS on binomial multiplication.

 "Algebra Tile" Method While this method is helpful for understanding how binomials are multiplied, it is not easily applied to ALL multiplications and may not be practical for overall use.

The example shown here is for binomial multiplication only!

To multiply binomials using algebra tiles, place one expression at the top of the grid and the second expression on the side of the grid.  You MUST maintain straight lines when you are filling in the center of the grid.  The tiles needed to complete the inner grid will be your answer.

Answer:   x² + 5x + 6

 Topic Index | Algebra Index | Regents Exam Prep Center Created by Donna Roberts