Let"s consider again the two equations us did an initial on the vault page, and also compare the lines" equations through their slope values.

You are watching: Why is a vertical line undefined

The very first line"s equation to be y = (2/3) x – 4, and also the line"s slope was m = 2/3.

The second line"s equation was y = –2x + 3, and the line"s slope was m = –2. In both cases, the number multiply on the change x was additionally the worth of the steep for that line. This relationship always holds true: If the line"s equation is in the kind "y=", climate the number multiply on x is the value of the steep m.


This partnership will become very important once you start working v straight-line equations.

Now let"s think about those two equations and their graphs.

For the very first equation, y = ( 2/3 )x – 4, the slope to be m = 2/3, a optimistic number. The graph looked choose this:


Notice exactly how the line, together we relocate from left to best along the x-axis, is edging upward toward the peak of the drawing; technically, the heat is an "increasing" line. And... The slope was positive.

This relationship always holds true: If a heat is increasing, then its slope will certainly be positive; and also if a line"s steep is positive, then its graph will be increasing.


For the second line, y = –2x + 3, the slope was m = –2, a an adverse number. The graph looked choose this:


Notice exactly how the line, as we move from left to best along the x-axis, is edging downward towards the bottom of the drawing; technically, the heat is a "decreasing" line. And... The slope was negative.

This partnership is constantly true: If a line is decreasing, climate its slope will certainly be negative; and if a line"s slope is negative, then its graph will be decreasing.

This relationship between the authorize on the slope and the direction the the line"s graph can help you examine your calculations: if you calculate a slope as being negative, but you deserve to see indigenous the graph the the equation that the heat is actually increasing (so the slope must be positive), climate you understand you have to re-do her calculations. Being aware of this connection can save you points on a test because it will enable you to check your work-related before you hand that in.

So currently we know: raising lines have actually positive slopes, and also decreasing currently have an adverse slopes. With this in mind, let"s consider the following horizontal line:


Is the horizontal heat edging upward; the is, is it an increasing line? No, so its slope can"t be positive. Is the horizontal line edging downward; the is, is the a decreasing line? No, therefore its slope can"t it is in negative. What number is neither confident nor negative?


So the steep of this (and any other) horizontal line should, logically, be zero. Let"s perform the calculations to check this. Utilizing the (arbitrary) points from the line, (–3, 4) and also (5, 4), the steep computes as:

This relationship always holds: a slope of zero means that the line is horizontal, and also a horizontal line means you"ll obtain a slope of zero.

(By the way, every horizontal lines space of the type "y = some number", and also the equation "y = part number" always graphs together a horizontal line.)

Is the vertical heat going increase on one end? Well, yes, sort of. So maybe the slope will be positive...? Is the vertical line going down on the various other end? Well, again, sort of. So possibly the slope will be negative...?

But is there any number the is both positive and negative? Nope.

Verdict: vertical lines have NO SLOPE. The principle of slope just does no work because that vertical lines. The slope of a vertical line does not exist!

Let"s carry out the calculations to confirm the logic. Indigenous the line"s graph, I"ll usage the (arbitrary) point out (4, 5) and also (4, –3). Then the steep is:

We can"t divide by zero, which is of food why this slope value is "undefined".

This relationship is always true: a vertical line will have no slope, and "the steep is undefined" or "the line has no slope" means that the heat is vertical.

(By the way, every vertical lines space of the kind "x = part number", and "x = some number" means the line is vertical. Any kind of time her line entails an undefined slope, the line is vertical; and any time the line is vertical, you"ll finish up splitting by zero if you try to compute the slope.)

Warning: that is really common come confuse these two species of lines and also their slopes, yet they are really different.

Just together "horizontal" is no at every the exact same as "vertical", so likewise "zero slope" is not at all the same as "no slope".

Just as a "Z" (with its two horizontal lines) is no the exact same as one "N" (with its 2 vertical lines), so additionally "Zero" steep (for a horizontal line) is no the very same as "No" steep (for a vertical line).

See more: How Does A Hydraulic Chair Work ? 2 Types Of Cylinders How Do Office Chair Hydraulics Work

The number "zero" exists, for this reason horizontal lines perform indeed have a slope. However vertical lines don"t have any slope; "slope" simply doesn"t have actually any meaning for vertical lines.

It is really common for tests to contain questions concerning horizontals and verticals. Don"t mix castle up!