Tangent Function – Formula, Definition With Examples

The world of mathematics is full of exciting concepts that are instrumental in understanding the world around us. One such remarkable concept is the tangent function. Introduced in the realm of trigonometry, the tangent function has sparked curiosity in young minds and is a gateway to more complex mathematical understanding. Here at Brighterly, we believe that the understanding of such fundamental concepts can be enjoyable and engaging for children. With our user-friendly resources, interactive tools, and hands-on exercises, we aim to make the learning of the tangent function an exciting journey. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the formula, definition, graphical representation, and properties of the tangent function, along with real-world examples and practice problems specifically tailored for children.

What Is the Tangent Function?

The tangent function, often represented as tan(x), is a fundamental concept in trigonometry that students across the world encounter in mathematics. It’s a ratio that connects two sides of a right triangle. Specifically, it’s the ratio of the length of the side opposite the angle to the length of the side adjacent to the angle. The formula for the tangent function can be written as:

tan(x) = sin(x) / cos(x)

It’s a concept that finds real-world applications in various fields such as architecture, engineering, physics, and even in understanding natural phenomena. Brighterly offers dedicated resources and interactive exercises to help children grasp this crucial mathematical concept with ease and fun.

Definition of the Tangent Function

The tangent function is defined as the ratio of the sine to the cosine of a given angle in a right-angled triangle. If you have an angle, often denoted as , the tangent of that angle is the length of the opposite side divided by the adjacent side. Children can understand this definition easily by visualizing a triangle, making it more engaging and enjoyable to learn.

Graphical Representation of Tangent

The graph of the tangent function presents an interesting and unique visual. Unlike sine and cosine, it has vertical asymptotes at certain points where the cosine function equals zero. The graph repeats itself every , creating an infinite number of these asymptotes. Its shape is symmetrical and extends infinitely in both the positive and negative directions. Visual tools available at Brighterly offer interactive graphical representations to engage children in the learning process.

Properties of the Tangent Function


The tangent function has a period of , meaning it repeats its values every units. This property can be fascinating for children as they explore how the function behaves and the pattern that emerges.


The tangent function is odd, implying that . This property of symmetry around the origin makes the function’s graph particularly attractive and helps in solving mathematical problems.

Zeros and Asymptotes

The tangent function has zeros at , , , etc. and vertical asymptotes where the cosine function equals zero. Understanding where the function reaches infinity or zero adds to the mathematical intuition and problem-solving skills.

Values of Tangent for Key Angles

Exploring specific angles provides insight into the tangent’s behavior. For example, the tangent of 45° is 1, and the tangent of 0° is 0. Understanding these values helps in various mathematical applications and deepens the comprehension of trigonometry as a whole.

Difference Between Tangent and Other Trigonometric Functions

Unlike sine and cosine, the tangent function can take all real values. It shares similarities but also has distinct differences with other trigonometric functions. The exploration of these differences not only builds a solid foundation in trigonometry but also fosters critical thinking skills.

Practice Problems on Tangent Function

Brighterly offers a range of practice problems to ensure children’s mastery of the tangent function. From simple exercises to complex problem-solving, hands-on practice helps children solidify their understanding and apply the concept in various contexts. Here are some real examples:

Simple Exercises:

  1. Find the tangent of 45°. Since the tangent of 45° is equal to 1, the answer is 1.

  2. Calculate the tangent of 0°. As the tangent of 0° is 0, the answer is 0.

  3. What is the tangent of 90°? The tangent of 90° is undefined, as the cosine of 90° is 0, and division by 0 is not allowed.

Intermediate Problems:

  1. If tan(x) = 2, find sin(x) and cos(x). By using the Pythagorean identity, one can find the corresponding sine and cosine values.

  2. Solve for x in the equation tan(x) = -1, for 0 ≤ x < 360°. Using the periodicity of the tangent function, students can find the values of x that satisfy this equation.

  3. Find the tangent of 30° using the sine and cosine values. By using the sine and cosine values for 30°, students can calculate the tangent.

Complex Problem-Solving:

  1. A 15-foot ladder is leaning against a wall, making a 75° angle with the ground. How far is the base of the ladder from the wall? By using the tangent function, students can solve real-world problems like this one involving right triangles.

  2. Graph the function y = 2 * tan(x) between x = -π and x = π. Understanding the graphical representation of the tangent function helps in visualizing and solving more complex problems.


The tangent function, with its fascinating properties and broad applications, is more than just a mathematical concept. It’s a tool that fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills in children. At Brighterly, our mission is to make the learning of such crucial concepts not just informative but enjoyable and engaging. Our curated resources, visual tools, and real-world examples provide children with a comprehensive understanding of the tangent function, preparing them for future success in mathematics and beyond. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, or a curious learner, we invite you to explore and experience the world of trigonometry through our lens. Together, we can make learning math a brighter and more delightful adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions on Tangent Function

What is the Tangent of 0?

The Tangent of 0 is precisely 0. It’s a straightforward example that illustrates the behavior of the tangent function at this specific angle. When an angle measures 0 degrees in a right-angled triangle, the opposite side’s length becomes 0, leading to a tangent value of 0.

How is the Tangent Function used in real life?

The Tangent function is widely used in real-life applications such as engineering, architecture, and physics. For example, engineers might use it to determine the slope of a road or a roof, while architects could use it to calculate the angles in their designs. Brighterly provides engaging examples and applications to help children relate this mathematical concept to the world around them.

Why is the Tangent Function periodic?

The Tangent function is periodic with a period of because it repeats its values every units. This repetition is tied to the nature of the sine and cosine functions, on which the tangent function is based. The periodicity of the tangent function can be a thrilling pattern for children to explore, and at Brighterly, we offer interactive tools to visualize and understand this property effectively.

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