Compound inequalities are mathematical expressions that involve two or more inequalities combined using the logical operators “AND” or “OR.” These inequalities play a crucial role in solving real-world problems and making informed decisions in various fields such as economics, engineering, and science. In this article, we will explore how to solve compound inequalities step by step, using key terms like “Compound Inequalities,” “Inequality,” and “Solution” to guide us along the way.

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What is a Compound Inequality?

A compound inequality is an expression that merges two inequalities, often using “and” or “or.” The two types of compound inequalities are known as conjunction and disjunction, each having its unique characteristics.


Conjunction is a compound inequality where inequalities are joined by “AND.” For example, consider the compound inequality: “-2 < x < 3” or equivalently, “x > -2 AND x < 3.” To solve this type of compound inequality, we need to find values that satisfy both inequalities.


Disjunction is a compound inequality where inequalities are joined by “OR.” For instance, the compound inequality “x ≤ -1 OR x > 2” implies that the solution can contain values that satisfy either or both inequalities. To solve this, we use the “union” symbol (∪) between the individual solutions.

Step-by-Step Process of Solving Compound Inequalities

Solving compound inequalities involves several steps that are applicable to both conjunction and disjunction.

Step 1: Identify the Inequalities

Start by identifying the two inequalities present in the compound inequality. For example, in the compound inequality “-4 ≤ 3x + 2 < 5,” the two inequalities are “-4 ≤ 3x + 2” and “3x + 2 < 5.”

Step 2: Solve Each Inequality

Solve each inequality separately, just as you would solve a normal inequality. It’s essential to note that when multiplying or dividing an inequality by a negative number, you must reverse the sign of the inequality.

Step 3: Graph the Solutions

Graph the solution of each inequality on the number line. Use open dots to indicate values that are not included and closed dots for values that are included. The direction of the arrow depends on the inequality type.

Step 4: Combine Solutions

Combine the solutions according to whether “AND” or “OR” is specified in the compound inequality.

  • For “AND,” take the intersection of the solutions.
  • For “OR,” take the union of the solutions.

Let’s go through examples to illustrate these steps:

Example of Solving Compound Inequality with “AND”

Consider the compound inequality “-2 < 2x – 3 < 5.”

Method 1: Direct Solution

Start by solving each inequality separately:
-2 < 2x – 3″ becomes “1 < 2x.
2x – 3 < 5″ becomes “2x < 8.

Then, divide each inequality by 2:
1/2 < x.
x < 4.

Finally, combine the solutions: “1/2 < x < 4” or in interval notation, (1/2, 4).

Method 2: Splitting into Two

Split the compound inequality into two inequalities:
2x – 3 > -2 and 2x – 3 < 5.

Solve each inequality separately:
2x > 1 and 2x < 8.

Divide each inequality by 2:
x > 1/2 and x < 4.

Combine the solutions back together: “1/2 < x < 4” or in interval notation, (1/2, 4).

Example of Solving Compound Inequality with “OR”

Consider the compound inequality “2y – 2 ≤ 0 OR 3y ≥ 0.”

Solve each inequality separately:
“2y – 2 ≤ 0” becomes “2y ≤ 2,” then “y ≤ 1.”
“3y ≥ 0” implies “y ≥ 0.”

Combine the solutions using “OR”:
“y ≤ 1 OR y ≥ 0.”

The solution is the set of all real numbers, as it covers the entire real number line.

Compound inequalities can sometimes result in “no solution” or represent “the set of all real numbers.” The specific outcome depends on the nature of the inequalities and their logical combination.


In this article, we’ve explored how to solve compound inequalities, which are expressions that involve two or more inequalities combined using “AND” or “OR.” We’ve covered the step-by-step process for solving these inequalities, highlighting key terms such as “Compound Inequalities,” “Inequality,” and “Solution” throughout the discussion. By following these steps, you can effectively tackle compound inequalities in various mathematical and real-world scenarios, enabling you to make informed decisions and solve complex problems.


What is the difference between conjunction and disjunction in compound inequalities?

The main difference lies in the logical connection between the inequalities. In conjunction, represented by “AND,” both inequalities must be satisfied simultaneously for a solution. In disjunction, represented by “OR,” the solution can satisfy either or both inequalities, offering a broader range of possible values.

How do you graph compound inequalities on a number line?

To graph compound inequalities, identify critical points on the number line for each inequality. Use open dots for values not included and closed dots for values included. Draw arrows in the direction specified by the inequality symbols. For “AND,” find the overlapping region; for “OR,” show separate regions.

What is the concept of intersection and union in compound inequalities?

Intersection (∩) combines solutions for “AND,” showing common values that satisfy both inequalities. Union (∪) combines solutions for “OR,” representing all values that satisfy either or both inequalities, making it more inclusive.

What is the interval notation for compound inequality solutions?

In interval notation, a solution like “1/2 < x < 4” is represented as (1/2, 4). For intervals that include endpoints, use square brackets, e.g., [-7/3, 5/3) means -7/3 ≤ x < 5/3.

Are there any common mistakes to avoid when solving compound inequalities?

Common mistakes include forgetting to reverse the inequality sign when multiplying/dividing by a negative number, incorrectly graphing open and closed dots, and mishandling “AND” and “OR” conditions. Always double-check your work to avoid errors in solving compound inequalities.

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