In this example, we can see that there are three rectangles. Each rectangle has been divided into six equal parts, or sixths. We can see that the whole of the first two rectangles is shaded. And four parts, or four-sixths, of the third rectangle is shaded. We would write that mixed numeral as two and four-sixths.

Let’s now look at the same example. Only this time, instead of expressing the number as a mixed numeral, we will write it as an improper fraction.

Here’s the last example. Instead of finding how many whole numbers there are, we will look at how many parts have been shaded. Six parts of the first rectangle have been shaded. Six parts of the second rectangle have been shaded. And four parts of the third rectangle have been shaded. Two whole rectangles have been shaded. Well that means there are 2 lots of 6 parts, or 12 parts plus 4 more parts. So all together, 16 parts have been shaded. We would write that as 16 parts out of 6 equal parts.

Looking at sixteen-sixths, what do you notice? That’s right. The number of parts, or the numerator, is bigger than the number of equal parts, or the denominator. That is why this type of fraction is called an improper fraction.