My son just asked me for help on a math homework problem, and I thought that the wording was a bit awkward, so wanted to check with others to see if it’s “just me”.

Here’s the problem, as close to verbatim as I can do from memory:

Here’s my problem with this problem: it’s not entirely clear that these sets of apartments are mutually exclusive. I think that they are most likely asking what is the total of 3/7 and 2/7 of 343 apartments. But if they overlap then the answer is “somewhere between 3/7 and 5/7 of 343”. The section this is in is about simplifying fractions, fwiw.

Maybe this just bothers me because if I were doing the work, I’d paint the apartments before I re-carpet them (so that I didn’t have to worry about paint on my new carpets).
What’s your take?

Well, “another 2/7” implies to me that there is a second set of apartments, separate from the first set of 3/7, that have been re-carpeted. It’s possible the apartments that needed re-carpeting didn’t need re-painting and vice versa.

But then again, I tended to suck at work problems.

Its kind of wierd that there is no actual simplification of the fraction going on since you’re in the ‘fraction simplification’ section. The denominator of the two fractions you are adding are the same.

I agree, mutually exclusive. “How many” implies a single correct answer, if the problem wanted a range then it would say something like “What is the highest/lowest possible number of apartments …”.

Especially so if this is a unit on fractions and not set theory.

Right, though for the fifth grade level, I just did “343/7=49/1” for the redux. 49*5=245. Dunno which way the book wants you to reduce the fraction though. 343/7 or 1715/7?

OP, *another *vote that the word another makes it exclusive. That’s a separate vote, not the vote of *another *person, counted again. That’s a separate person, not me counted twice.

I get 5/7 because that is how many have been repainted OR recarpeted. I think that is right, the ‘or’ seems to imply there is no overlap…

Ranty bit: I hate these stupid word problems! They were the bane of my life at school…
There are 15 children swimming. There are 5 towels by the pool and 4 towels drying on the line. How may more towels do you need? Correct answer:6.
NO!!! Who wants a damp towel? You need 10 more…
Teachers need to put more thought into what it is they are asking for…