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Remember some terms:

3^4  The basis is 3 and the exponent (power) is the 4.

The first place that negative numbers can appear is in the base.

What I'm going to show you now is a REALLY common place to mess up in Algebra...  So, pay extra close attention!

Are these the same?

(-5)^2  and -5^2

Other than some purple on one of them, I'll bet you aren't so sure.

They are, actually, VERY different...  So, let's learn what each one means!

(-5)^2
The parenthesis are important!
They put a box around the negative!

(-5)^2 = (-5)(-5) = 25

Remember that a negative times a negative is a positive!