Building the Basics: Fractions

Fractions are numbers that show parts of a whole number. They can be simple, improper and mixed numbers. For more information download the Fractions Lesson PDF from the bottom of the page.

Fractions are used by nurses and health professionals when giving medications and talking to patients about their intake. For example, you will be expected to administer part of an ampoule (glass container) of medication or part of a tablet. If a patient tells you that they ate “three-quarters” of their meal, you need to be able to conceptualise what this represents.

Fractions are made up of a numerator (top number) and a denominator (bottom number) separated by a horizontal line called a fraction bar. This fraction, 3/4, can be said 'three fourths', 'three out of four', 'three divided by four' or 'three quarters'.

Fractions are also related to decimals, percentages and ratios. You will find more information about these topics in the other Building Your Numeracy Skills sections on this website.

You should try to memorise some common fractions and their decimal and percentage equivalents. This will help your understanding, and quicken your recall and calculation on tests.

1/2 (one half) 0.5 50%
1/3 (one third) 0.3333 33.33%
1/4 (one quarter) 0.25 25%
1/5 (one fifth) 0.2 20%
1/10 (one tenth) 0.1 10%