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When we do a problem like 5-2 on a number line, we start up at the 5...

number line with whole number from 0 to 6 with a dot above the 5

and jump back (to the left) 2 places:

number line showing 5 - 2 = 3

5 - 2 = 3

So, what happens if we want to do this?

2 - 5

Start at the 2...

number line showing whole numbers from 0 to 6 with a dot over the 2

and jump back 5...

number line showing whole numbers from 0 to 6 with a dot over the 2 and arrows jumping back 5 spots

Uh oh!  We ran out of numbers!