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Grade 10

Gradient of horizontal and vertical lines

We know that the slope of a line is a measure of its steepness or slope.

Straight lines on the Cartesian Plane can literally be in any direction and pass through any two points.  

This means that straight lines can be:



Horizontal Lines

On horizontal lines, the $y$y value is always the same for every point on the line. In other words, there is no rise- it's completely flat. 




All the $y$y-coordinates are the same. Every point on the line has a $y$y value equal to $4$4, regardless of the $x$x-value.

The equation of this line is $y=4$y=4.

Since slope is calculated by $\frac{\text{rise }}{\text{run }}$rise run and there is no rise (ie. $\text{rise }=0$rise =0), the slope of a horizontal line is always $0$0.

Vertical Lines

On vertical lines, the $x$x value is always the same for every point on the line.

Let's look at the coordinates for A,B and C on this line.  




All the $x$x-coordinates are the same, $x=5$x=5, regardless of the $y$y value.

The equation of this line is $x=5$x=5.

Vertical lines have no "run" (ie. $\text{run }=0$run =0). l If we substituted this into the $\frac{\text{rise }}{\text{run }}$rise run equation, we'd have a $0$0 as the denominator of the fraction. However, fractions with a denominator of $0$0 are undefined.

So, the slope of vertical lines is always undefined.

Did you know?

Linear equations can be written in the form $y=mx+b$y=mx+b, where $m$m is the slope.

Notice how the equations of horizontal and vertical lines are not written in this form. Neither of them have a coefficient of $x$x.


Question 1

What is the slope of any line parallel to the $x$x-axis?

Question 2

$A$A $\left(2,1\right)$(2,1), $B$B $\left(7,3\right)$(7,3) and $C$C $\left(7,-5\right)$(7,5) are the vertices of a triangle.

  1. Which side of the triangle is a vertical line?












  2. Determine the area of the triangle using $A=\frac{1}{2}bh$A=12bh.







Connect the rate of change of a linear relation to the slope of the line, and define the slope as the ratio m = rise/run

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