Natural Numbers – Definition with Examples
Created on Dec 18, 2023
Updated on January 5, 2024
Welcome to the Brighterly journey of discovering the fascinating world of numbers, where we start at the very beginning – natural numbers. These numbers are the first friends your child makes in the expansive universe of mathematics. They are the most straightforward, basic numbers that we encounter in our daytoday life, making them the ideal starting point in the exciting adventure of learning maths.
Natural numbers are so simple and intuitive that your child has probably already used them without even realizing it. These are the numbers that we use for counting objects, like the number of candies in a jar, the number of teddies on a bed, or the number of siblings one has. Let’s embark on this exciting exploration of natural numbers, dive deep into their properties, understand their relationship with whole numbers, and clarify any misconceptions that may have cropped up during your child’s interaction with these foundational elements of mathematics. With a blend of theoretical understanding and practical examples, we at Brighterly are committed to making mathematics a fun, engaging, and enlightening experience for your child.
Definition of Natural Numbers
Natural numbers, often denoted by the symbol N, refer to the set of positive integers beginning from 1 and extending indefinitely. These numbers represent quantities that are naturally understood in everyday life, such as the number of apples in a basket or the number of kids in a playground. This makes them the most intuitive and basic numbers that children encounter when starting their mathematical journey. The set of natural numbers starts as {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, …}, and goes on infinitely.
Natural Numbers and Whole Numbers
When we move onto the concept of whole numbers, we see an extension of the natural numbers. While natural numbers begin at 1, whole numbers incorporate the number 0. Hence, the set of whole numbers is {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, …}. This inclusion of ‘0’ is often the cause of debate and confusion among young learners, leading to the question: Is ‘0′ a natural number?
Is ‘0′ a Natural Number?
The question of whether zero is a natural number tends to vary based on regional educational standards and mathematical contexts. Generally, in the realm of primary school mathematics, 0 is not considered a natural number. However, some advanced mathematical fields do include 0 in the set of natural numbers for the sake of consistency and convenience in certain theories.
Every Natural Number is a Whole Number. True or False?
Given the definitions provided, it’s true to say that every natural number is a whole number. This assertion stems from the fact that the set of natural numbers is included in the set of whole numbers. However, the reverse is not true, as whole numbers include ‘0’, which is not a traditional natural number.
Representing Natural Numbers on a Number Line
A number line is an effective tool for visualizing the concept of natural numbers. On a number line, each natural number is represented by a distinct point located a uniform distance apart. The natural numbers start at 1 and continue indefinitely to the right, giving a spatial sense of these basic mathematical building blocks.
Set of Natural Numbers
The set of natural numbers is usually symbolized by N and consists of all positive integers from 1 to infinity. It’s an infinite and countable set, expressed as {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, …}. The concept of the set forms the foundational understanding of various mathematical principles and operations.
Natural Numbers Examples
Some examples of natural numbers can include everyday scenarios, like counting the number of pencils in a box or the number of students in a class. In such situations, we always start counting from 1, which naturally aligns with the concept of natural numbers.
Properties of Natural Numbers
Natural numbers possess certain key properties that dictate how they interact with each other. These include the Closure Property, Associative Property, Commutative Property, and the Distributive Property.
Closure Property
The closure property of natural numbers states that if you add or multiply any two natural numbers, the result is always another natural number. This property ensures that the operations of addition and multiplication keep you within the set of natural numbers.
Associative Property
The associative property relates to the grouping of numbers. It states that the way in which numbers are grouped does not affect the sum or product. In other words, for any natural numbers a, b, and c, (a + b) + c = a + (b + c) and (a * b) * c = a * (b * c).
Commutative Property
The commutative property of natural numbers highlights that the order of numbers does not impact the result of addition or multiplication. This means, for any natural numbers a and b, a + b = b + a and a * b = b * a.
Distributive Property
The distributive property of natural numbers suggests that multiplication distributes over addition. For any natural numbers a, b, and c, a * (b + c) = (a * b) + (a * c).
Operations With Natural Numbers
In dealing with natural numbers, the primary operations include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. However, subtraction and division with natural numbers can sometimes lead to results outside of the set of natural numbers, such as negative numbers or fractions.
Difference Between Natural Numbers and Whole Numbers
The main difference between natural numbers and whole numbers lies in the inclusion of ‘0’. Whole numbers include ‘0’ and all natural numbers, whereas natural numbers traditionally start from ‘1’ and extend to infinity.
Natural Numbers on Number Line
A number line graphically represents natural numbers as equidistant points starting from ‘1’ and extending indefinitely to the right. This gives a visual representation of the counting process and helps in understanding the sequence and relationships of natural numbers.
History of Natural Numbers
The history of natural numbers dates back to prehistoric times, with early human societies using them for counting and basic arithmetic. The evolution of natural numbers and their representations, like tally marks and number systems, has played a pivotal role in the development of civilization and scientific progress.
Practice Questions on Natural Numbers
 Add the natural numbers 5 and 9.
 Subtract 3 from the natural number 8.
 Multiply the natural numbers 7 and 6.
 Divide the natural number 18 by 3.
 Using the natural numbers 2, 5, and 7, demonstrate the associative property for addition.
 Using the natural numbers 3, 4, and 6, demonstrate the commutative property for multiplication.
 Identify whether the following statements are True or False:
 Every natural number is a whole number.
 Every whole number is a natural number.
 If the set of natural numbers is represented as N, how would you express the natural number ‘4’ in terms of a set?
Solved Examples on Natural Numbers

Example: Add the natural numbers 5 and 9.
Solution:
5 + 9 = 14

Example: Subtract 3 from the natural number 8.
Solution:
8 – 3 = 5

Example: Multiply the natural numbers 7 and 6.
Solution:
7 * 6 = 42

Example: Divide the natural number 18 by 3.
Solution:
18 ÷ 3 = 6

Example: Using the natural numbers 2, 5, and 7, demonstrate the associative property for addition.
Solution:
The associative property states that the way numbers are grouped does not affect the sum. So,
(2 + 5) + 7 = 2 + (5 + 7)
Calculating both sides,
7 + 7 = 2 + 12
14 = 14, which verifies the associative property.

Example: Using the natural numbers 3, 4, and 6, demonstrate the commutative property for multiplication.
Solution:
The commutative property states that the order of numbers does not affect the product. So,
3 * 4 = 4 * 3
Calculating both sides,
12 = 12, which verifies the commutative property.

Example: Identify whether the following statements are True or False:
 Every natural number is a whole number.
 Every whole number is a natural number.
Solution:
 Every natural number is a whole number. True
 Every whole number is a natural number. False (Because 0 is a whole number but not a natural number)

Example: If the set of natural numbers is represented as N, how would you express the natural number ‘4’ in terms of a set?
Solution:
The natural number ‘4’ can be expressed as {4} ∈ N, which means ‘4’ is an element of the set of natural numbers N.
Conclusion
We have journeyed together through the world of natural numbers, understanding their definition, characteristics, properties, and their place in the wider mathematical landscape. From counting the number of cookies in a jar to representing them on a number line, these numbers form the foundation of our numerical understanding.
Learning about natural numbers is like mastering the alphabet before attempting to write sentences. It’s the first step in the mathematics journey – a journey we at Brighterly promise to make as fun and engaging as possible.
Remember, mathematics is not about memorization. It’s about understanding concepts, forming connections, and developing a curiosity to explore more. Our adventure doesn’t end here. With natural numbers understood, we now have the tools to explore more complex number sets, like whole numbers, integers, and rational numbers. Stay tuned for more exciting learning with Brighterly. Your child’s mathematical proficiency is just a number (line) away!
Frequently Asked Questions on Natural Numbers
What is the first natural number?
The first natural number is ‘1’. Natural numbers start from ‘1’ and extend to infinity.
Are all whole numbers also natural numbers?
No, all whole numbers are not natural numbers. Whole numbers include ‘0’ and all natural numbers, but since ‘0’ is not traditionally considered a natural number, it sets whole numbers apart from natural numbers.
Can natural numbers be negative?
No, natural numbers can never be negative. They start from ‘1’ and increase positively, extending indefinitely to infinity.
Why are they called ‘natural’ numbers?
They are called ‘natural’ numbers because they are naturally the first numbers humans started using. They were used for counting objects, which is one of the most natural and earliest mathematical activities.
What are the basic operations that can be performed on natural numbers?
The basic operations performed on natural numbers are addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. However, it’s important to note that subtraction and division can sometimes lead to results that are not natural numbers.