The Lesson

An improper fraction is a type of fraction. The top number of an improper fraction (called the numerator) is greater than or equal to the bottom number (called the denominator).

Dictionary Definition

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a proper fraction as "a fraction whose numerator is greater than (or equal to) its denominator, and whose value is therefore greater than (or equal to) unity."

Examples of Improper Fractions

Here are some examples of improper fractions:

Visualizing Improper Fractions

A useful way of visualizing fractions is to picture it as a cake being cut into equal parts. The top number (the numerator) tells you have many slices you have. The bottom number (the denominator) tells you how many equal slices the cake is cut into. For improper fractions, there are enough slices to make at least one whole cake, and there may be more slices to spare:

Interactive Widget

Here is an interactive widget to help you learn about the types of fractions.

Top-Heavy Fractions

Improper fractions are sometimes called "top-heavy" fractions because the top of the fraction is bigger than the bottom.

What Is a Fraction?

A fraction is a part of a whole number. Fractions consist of a numerator and a denominator. There are three different types of fractions:

The Size of Improper Fractions

An improper fraction is always greater than or equal to 1.
  • If the numerator is equal to the denominator, the improper fraction is equal to 1.
  • If the numerator is greater than the denominator, the improper fraction is greater than 1.