Understanding Quadrants for Math and in Graphing

POSTED ON AUGUST 09, 2023

Math quadrants are helpful regions in a coordinate system that will come in handy when identifying behaviors in these four sectors. By using quadrants, we have a systematic way of identifying and categorizing points that belong in a certain quadrant. In this article, let’s dive into the basics of a quadrant, understand its function, and try out different applications of quadrants in math!

What Is a Quadrant and How Do We Identify the Quadrants On a Graph?

The quadrant represents one of the four regions formed when two axes in a Cartesian plane intersect. When two axes (x-axis and y-axis) intersect, they form four regions. Each region is called a quadrant.!

Take a look at the Cartesian plane shown above. It is formed when the horizontal line, the x-axis, and the vertical line (called the y-axis) intersect. Now, the four regions formed are what we call the quadrants. For convention’s sake, these regions are labeled in a particular order to make it easier for everyone to identify the sector being referred to easily.

Identifying the Quadrants in a Coordinate Plane

The coordinate plane is divided into four quadrants with the following labels: Quadrant I, Quadrant II, Quadrant III, and Quadrant IV. Starting from the origin, we begin at the upper-right corner and then move counterclockwise until we reach Quadrant IV.

Each set of points belonging to each quadrant exhibits interesting properties. But first, observe on your own! Notice any patterns?

• Quadrant I: It’s the first quadrant and is at the upper-right corner of the region. All the points for x and y are positive in this region.

• Quadrant II: The second quadrant is at the upper-left corner. This time, the values of x are negative while the values of y are all positive.

• Quadrant III: The third quadrant is at the lower-left corner and right below Quadrant II. By observing the values in this region, you can see that both x and y are negative.

• Quadrant IV: You’ll find the fourth quadrant in the lower right-hand corner below Quadrant I. The values of x are positive while that of y are negative.

Having fun learning about quadrants so far? Check out Juni Learning's wide range of quality resources that will help you master Algebra topics. Discover different techniques and top-notch methods offered by Juni Learning’s materials to help you conquer the Common Core standards. Juni Learning will not only help you with the basics, but it can be your study buddy as you explore higher maths!

Test your understanding so far by identifying the quadrants that the following points belong to:

a. (-3, -2)

b. (2, 2)

c. (2, -3)

For the first point, since a = (-3,-2) lies on the lower-right corner of the coordinate plane, it lies on Quadrant III. Apply a similar thought process to find the quadrants that the remaining points below to. Here’s a table to guide you through:

Boost math confidence to the next level
Juni’s vetted instructors study at top US Universities and provide our students with the support and mentorship to grow their math skills.

Sign Conventions of Quadrants on a Graph

In the same way that we have set rules on naming quadrants on a coordinate system, it’s helpful to know the sign conventions for each quadrant. You can even figure out these rules by observing the Cartesian plane:

• As a point moves from left to right along the x-axis (the horizontal axis), the values of x increase from negative numbers to positive ones.

• Similarly, as the point moves upward along the y-axis (the vertical axis), the values of y increase as well.

This pattern continues and applies even as we divide the coordinate system into four quadrants shown earlier in this article. That’s why we have the following sign conventions for the graph’s quadrants:

This means that by simply inspecting the coordinates’ signs, we can immediately determine whether a given coordinate is located in Quadrant I, II, III, or IV!

Why don’t we include this in our previous quadrant chart guide?

Remember this quadrant graph whenever you need help identifying a point’s quadrant position. With this chart, you can easily locate the quadrant a point belongs given its actual position on the graph or its coordinate.

Plotting Points and Identifying the Quadrants They Belong To

When given a point, (a, b), it tells you that its x-coordinate is a and its y-coordinate is b.The values of a and b will tell you how far away they are from the origin, (0, 0), or the intersection of the x and y axes. Here’s how to plot the point and identify the quadrant it belongs to:

1. Starting from the origin, move a units to the right if a is positive or a units to the left if a is negative.

2. Use the value of b then move b units upward if b is positive or b units downward if b is negative.

3. Mark the final location and plot the point, (a, b), there.

4. Now, determine which secti on of the coordinate system they’re located in to identify the quadrant that it belongs to.

Of course, the best way to understand this concept is by practice, so plot the following points and identify which quadrant these points lie.

1. (-3, 3)

First, identify the x and y-coordinates to know how you’ll move starting from the origin.

• Move 3 units to the left starting from the origin.
• Move 3 units upward from there.

Once you have the position, mark it as the point, (-3, 3) as shown below.

After plotting the point, identify the section that it belongs to. The point (-3, 3) is located in the upper-left corner of the coordinate system. Hence, (-3, 3) lies on Quadrant III.

1. (2, 3)

Use a similar approach to plot (2, -2) and find the quadrant it lies on.

• Move 2 units to the right of the origin.

• From there, move 2 units downward.

• Locate the quadrant the point lies on.

Since point (2, -2) lies in the lower-right corner, we can confirm that it lies in the fourth quadrant or Quadrant IV.

Wrapping It Up With Quadrants for Math

Quadrants help you have a systematic way of categorizing points found in the xy-plane. By mastering this topic, you’ll have a better understanding of how we plot points and other figures on the coordinate system. Don’t forget to practice plotting points, knowing the sign conventions, and remembering how to identify a point’s quadrant. You got this!