Math Words – Do You Really Know What A Postulate Is?

Mathematics is a language of many words and symbols.  When studying Geometry we come across many new words and one of the most important is “postulate”.   As such I thought we can take a quick in-depth look into what a postulate is so your child can be clear about what they are studying in Geometry.

Postulate:  a postulate is something we believe in math that we can’t prove. 

We believe in a postulate because we experience it as true- however we can’t prove it using the formal laws of deduction.  An example postulate would be “Given any straight line and a point not on it, there exists one and only one straight line which passes through the point and never intersects the first line, no matter how far they are extended.”

The statement above seems true because we can draw out the scenario and “see” that in fact it makes sense.  However as much as you think we can formally prove this mathematically we can’t.  Hence we just accept this condition as true and classify it as a postulate.  In Geometry we also have other terms we study like “theorems”.  Theorems are statements that we can prove using postulates, properties and logic as our reasons.  Indeed all of this can be confusing so when studying mathematics we need to really keep track of what words and terms actually mean. The best way to build your math vocabulary is by taking great notes and reviewing often.  Just remember mathematics is a language and like any language it takes a lot of practice to master.