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!

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!