Become a math whiz with AI Tutoring, Practice Questions & more.

Join for Free
HotmathMath Homework. Do It Faster, Learn It Better.

Lines, Segments, and Rays

Most students of mathematics have an intuitive understanding of what a line is, but a good definition can be difficult to write. Likewise, lines are related to line segments and rays, both of which are also explored in this article. Let's get started!

Lines, segments, and rays: lines

We can say that a line is an infinitely thin, infinitely long collection of points extending in two opposite directions. Since we cannot actually draw lines of infinite length in geometry, we use arrows to indicate that they stretch on in both directions:

There are two different ways to name lines. If we have the names of at least two points on the line, we can name it after them. For example, the line on the left above could be called line AB. If we don't, we can use a lowercase letter such as line m on the right.

Lines, segments, and rays: line segments

A line segment is like a line except that it has two clearly defined endpoints, meaning that it isn't infinitely long. That means that we can measure the length of a line segment whereas we cannot measure the length of a line. Here is an example:

Line segments are always named after their endpoints. For example, the segment above would be called segment AB.

Lines, segments, and rays: rays

A ray is part of a line with a clear endpoint in one direction that stretches indefinitely in the other. Since one side is infinitely long, we cannot measure the length of a ray. The diagram below illustrates what a ray looks like:

Rays are named by their endpoints first and any other named point after that. For example, the ray above would be named BA because B is the endpoint and A is a named point on the ray.

Practice questions on lines, rays, and segments

a. Write two different names for the ray highlighted in red in the diagram below:

Rays are named after their endpoint followed by any other named points on the ray. In the diagram above, point C is the endpoint so both names have to start with that. The ray also includes point E and point F, so it could be named CE or CF.

b. In your own words, explain the difference between lines, line segments, and rays.

Lines have no set endpoints, line segments have endpoints in both directions, and rays have one endpoint then continue off in one direction.

Topics related to the Lines, Segments, and Rays



Finding the Equation of a Line from Its Graph

Flashcards covering the Lines, Segments, and Rays

3rd Grade Math Flashcards

Basic Arithmetic Flashcards

Practice tests covering the Lines, Segments, and Rays

Common Core: 3rd Grade Math Diagnostic Tests

3rd Grade Math Practice Tests

Deepen your student's understanding of lines, segments, and rays with Varsity Tutors

Understanding lines, segments, and rays is essential to a student's understanding of geometry. If your young learner is having a tough time differentiating between them, a private math tutor could help pinpoint the root cause of the issue and address it directly. One-on-one tutoring also takes place in an exclusive learning environment where many kids feel more comfortable asking questions and showing interest in mathematics. Contact the friendly Educational Directors at Varsity Tutors today for more information on the benefits of tutoring and how easy it can be to get started.

Subjects Near Me
Popular Cities
Popular Subjects
Download our free learning tools apps and test prep books
varsity tutors app storevarsity tutors google play storevarsity tutors amazon storevarsity tutors ibooks store