How to find the slope of a line with two points?

We can calculate the slope of a line using two points that are part of the line. Therefore, we form a fraction, where the numerator corresponds to the change in the y-coordinates of the points and the denominator corresponds to the change in the x-coordinates.

Here, we will learn about the formula that we can apply to calculate the slope using two points. Then, we will apply this formula to solve some problems.

GEOMETRY
formula for the slope of a line using two points

Relevant for

Calculating the slope of a line using two points.

See examples

GEOMETRY
formula for the slope of a line using two points

Relevant for

Calculating the slope of a line using two points.

See examples

Formula for the slope using two points

We can find the formula for the slope by using the coordinates of two points that are part of the line. The slope equals the change in y divided by the change in x. Therefore, if we have the points $latex A=(x_{1}, y_{1})$ and $latex B = (x_{2}, y_{2})$, the slope formula is:

Formula for the slope

$latex m=\frac{y_{2}-y_{1}}{x_{2}-x_{1}}$

Slope of a common lines

Using the slope formula, we can determine the slope of some common lines for reference

Slope of a horizontal line

A horizontal line has no inclination with respect to the x-axis, so its slope is equal to 0. The y coordinates of all points on a horizontal line are the same, so when using the slope formula, we have:

$latex m=\frac{y_{2}-y_{1}}{x_{2}-x_{1}}$

$latex =\frac{0}{x_{2}-x_{1}}$

$latex m=0$

Slope of a vertical line

A vertical line has an undefined slope. All points on a vertical line have coordinates in x that are the same, so when applying the slope formula, we have:

$latex m=\frac{y_{2}-y_{1}}{x_{2}-x_{1}}$

$latex =\frac{y_{2}-y_{1}}{0}$

We know that division by 0 is undefined.

Slope of parallel lines

For two or more lines to be parallel, their slopes must be equal. For example, suppose we have the lines $latex l_{1}$ and $latex l_{2}$ with slopes $latex m_{1}$ and $latex m_{2}$ respectively. If these lines are parallel, we must have:

$latex m_{1}=m_{2}$

Slope of perpendicular lines

The slopes of two parallel lines are equal to the negative reciprocal of each other. For example, suppose we have the lines $latex l_{1}$ and $latex l_{2}$ with slopes $latex m_{1}$ and $latex m_{2}$ respectively. If these lines are perpendicular, we must have:

$latex m_{1}=-\frac{1}{m_{2}}$


Examples with answers of slope of a line using two points

The formula for the slope of a line is applied using the two points given to obtain the answer. Try to solve the problems yourself before looking at the solution.

EXAMPLE 1

We have a line that contains the points (1, 3) and (3, 7). What is its slope?

We have the two points:

  • $latex (x_{1}, y_{1})=(1, 3)$
  • $latex (x_{2}, y_{2})=(3, 7)$

We apply the slope formula with the two given points:

$latex m=\frac{y_{2}-y_{1}}{x_{2}-x_{1}}$

$latex m=\frac{7-3}{3-1}$

$latex m=\frac{4}{2}$

$latex m=2$

The slope of the line is 2.

EXAMPLE 2

What is the slope of a line that has the points (3, 2) and (8, 3)?

We have the following coordinates of the points:

  • $latex (x_{1}, y_{1})=(3, 2)$
  • $latex (x_{2}, y_{2})=(8, 3)$

We use these coordinates in the slope formula and we have:

$latex m=\frac{y_{2}-y_{1}}{x_{2}-x_{1}}$

$latex m=\frac{3-2}{8-3}$

$latex m=\frac{1}{5}$

The slope of the line is $latex \frac{1}{5}$.

EXAMPLE 3

The points (-1, 3) and (6, -4) are part of a line. What is its slope?

We have the following points:

  • $latex (x_{1}, y_{1})=(-1, 3)$
  • $latex (x_{2}, y_{2})=(6, -4)$

When we apply the slope formula with these coordinates, we have:

$latex m=\frac{y_{2}-y_{1}}{x_{2}-x_{1}}$

$latex m=\frac{-4-3}{6-(-1)}$

$latex m=\frac{-7}{7}$

$latex m=-1$

The slope of the line is $latex -1$.

EXAMPLE 4

What is the slope of a line that contains the points (-3, -2) and (3, -5)?

We can write as follows:

  • $latex (x_{1}, y_{1})=(-3, -2)$
  • $latex (x_{2}, y_{2})=(3, -5)$

We use the slope formula with the given coordinates:

$latex m=\frac{y_{2}-y_{1}}{x_{2}-x_{1}}$

$latex m=\frac{-5-(-2)}{3-(-3)}$

$latex m=\frac{-3}{6}$

$latex m=-\frac{1}{2}$

The slope of the line is $latex -\frac{1}{2}$.


Slope of a line using two points – Practice problems

Solve the following practice problems using the slope formula with the given points. If you need help with this, you can look at the solved examples above.

Find the slope of a line that passes through the points (1, 2) and (5, 3).

Choose an answer






If the points (-3, 1) and (2, 4) are part of a line, what is the slope?

Choose an answer






What is the slope of a line that has the points (-2, 1) and (2, -3)?

Choose an answer






Find the slope of a line that contains the points (-3, -2) and (1, -10).

Choose an answer







See also

Interested in learning more about the midpoint, slope, and distance on the plane? Take a look at these pages:

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