By the end of this section, you will be able to:

- Identify the x – and y – intercepts on a graph
- Find the x – and y – intercepts from an equation of a line
- Graph a line using the intercepts

Every linear equation can be represented by a unique line that shows all the solutions of the equation. We have seen that when graphing a line by plotting points, you can use any three solutions to graph. This means that two people graphing the line might use different sets of three points.

At first glance, their two lines might not appear to be the same, since they would have different points labeled. But if all the work was done correctly, the lines should be exactly the same. One way to recognize that they are indeed the same line is to look at where the line crosses the *x*– axis and the *y*– axis. These points are called the *intercepts* of the line.

The points where a line crosses the *x*– axis and the *y*– axis are called the intercepts of a line.

Let’s look at the graphs of the lines in Figure 4.18.

First, notice where each of these lines crosses the *x* negative axis. See Figure 4.18.

Do you see a pattern?

For each row, the *y*– coordinate of the point where the line crosses the *x*– axis is zero. The point where the line crosses the *x*– axis has the form (*a*,0) and is called the *x*– intercept of a line. The *x*– intercept occurs when *y* is zero.

Now, let’s look at the points where these lines cross the *y*– axis. See Table 4.25.

What is the pattern here?

In each row, the *x*– coordinate of the point where the line crosses the *y*– axis is zero. The point where the line crosses the *y*– axis has the form (0,*b*) and is called the *y- intercept* of the line. The *y*– intercept occurs when *x* is zero.

Recognizing that the *x*– intercept occurs when *y* is zero and that the *y*– intercept occurs when *x* is zero, gives us a method to find the intercepts of a line from its equation. To find the *x*– intercept, let *y*=0 and solve for *x*. To find the *y*– intercept, let *x*=0 and solve for *y*.

Use the equation of the line. To find:

- the
*x*– intercept of the line, let*y*=0 and solve for*x*. - the
*y*– intercept of the line, let*x*=0 and solve for*y*.

To graph a linear equation by plotting points, you need to find three points whose coordinates are solutions to the equation. You can use the *x*– and *y*– intercepts as two of your three points. Find the intercepts, and then find a third point to ensure accuracy. Make sure the points line up—then draw the line. This method is often the quickest way to graph a line.

The steps to graph a linear equation using the intercepts are summarized below.

- Step 1. Find the
*x*– and*y*– intercepts of the line.- Let
*y*=0 and solve for*x* - Let
*x*=0 and solve for*y*.

- Let
- Step 2. Find a third solution to the equation.
- Step 3. Plot the three points and check that they line up.
- Step 4. Draw the line.

**Identify the x– and y– Intercepts on a Graph**

In the following exercises, find the *x*– and *y*– intercepts on each graph.

**Find the x– and y– Intercepts from an Equation of a Line**

In the following exercises, find the intercepts for each equation.

**Graph a Line Using the Intercepts**

In the following exercises, graph using the intercepts.

205.**Road trip.** Damien is driving from Chicago to Denver, a distance of 1000 miles. The *x*– axis on the graph below shows the time in hours since Damien left Chicago. The *y*– axis represents the distance he has left to drive.

ⓐ Find the *x*– and *y*– intercepts.

ⓑ Explain what the *x*– and *y*– intercepts mean for Damien.

206.**Road trip.** Ozzie filled up the gas tank of his truck and headed out on a road trip. The *x*– axis on the graph below shows the number of miles Ozzie drove since filling up. The *y*– axis represents the number of gallons of gas in the truck’s gas tank

.

ⓐ Find the *x*– and *y*– intercepts.

ⓑ Explain what the *x*– and *y*– intercepts mean for Ozzie.

ⓐ After completing the exercises, use this checklist to evaluate your mastery of the objectives of this section.

ⓑ What does this checklist tell you about your mastery of this section? What steps will you take to improve?

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