script src=""> Angles and Trigonometry : Key Skills (or Basic Skills) in Application of Number (Maths)

Angles and Trigonometry

Right Angles

A Right Angle is an angle equal to 90o

Right angles are usually denoted by the little box symbol shown.

Return to Top

Angles in General

Angles greater than 0 degrees and less than 90 degrees are called acute
Angles greater than 90 degrees and less than 180 degrees are called obtuse
Angles greater than 180 degrees and less than 360 degrees are called reflex

You can see from the definition of reflex angles that you do need to be aware of which angle it is that we are interested in, i.e. for a reflex angle it is the angle greater than 180 degrees as opposed to the obtuse (or acute) angle that would be measured from the 'other side'.

A practical situation where this differentiation is very important is in bearings. Here the angle is measured clockwise from North. So due west would be on a bearing of 270 degrees, definitely not 90 degrees. The bearing shown at left is definitely 220 degrees - not the 140 degrees you would measure if you measured the angle counter-clockwise.

Creating angles of 30, 45, 60, 90 degrees by folding paper

Return to Top

Angles on a Straight Line

The angles on a Straight Line add up to 180o

And the angles in a complete Circle sum to 360o, which you should already have met when learning about Pie Charts.

Return to Top

Angles in a Triangle

The angles in a triangle sum to 180o

Other links

Quick Quiz

What is the missing angle in this triangle ?

Return to Top

Parallel Lines

Lines which are parallel to each other stay the same distance apart, no matter how long they are.

When a line crosses a set of parallel lines, there are two sets of angles that we can identify.

Corresponding Angles

Corresponding Angles are Equal

Alternate Angles

Alternate Angles are Equal

Parallelograms are four-sided shapes with opposites sides parallel and equal.

Maths Goodies on Parallelograms

Return to Top

Opposite Angles

Vertically opposite angles are equal

Return to Top

Pythagoras' Theorem

This theorem only works for right-angled triangles

First we need to define the hypotenuse. The hypotenuse is the longest side in a right-angled triangle - it is the side opposite the right angle

The theorem says :

The square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides

Stated mathematically
c2 = a2 + b2

Quick Quiz

What is the length of the missing side in these triangles ?

Return to Top

Sine, Cosine and Tangent

Sines, Cosines and Tangents are defined in terms of the sides of a right-angled triangle. We first give a few definitions regarding the sides of a triangle.

The hypotenuse has already been previously defined - it is

  • the longest side in a right-angled triangle
  • it is opposite the right-angle

We also require the opposite side and the adjacent side. Whereas the hypotenuse is a inherent property of the triangle, the use of the terms opposite side and adjacent side are relative to which angle we are considering. Consider the following two diagrams

The triangles are identical - hopefully the situation is self-explanatory. The hypotenuse is defined as a property of the triangle itself, but the use of the terms opposite and adjacent will depend on which angle you are considering.

We can now define the sine (sin), cosine (cos) and tangent (tan)

\[ \mbox{sin} = \frac{opposite}{hypotenuse} \]

\[ \mbox{cos} = \frac{adjacent}{hypotenuse} \]

\[ \mbox{tan} = \frac{opposite}{adjacent} \]

Hint :- remember the following mnemonic


Return to Top

Angles and angle terms from Math League

Return to Top

Past Exam Questions

Stage 3

Steve is training for a career in building and is learning how to use a ladder safely.

He has to consider two distances:

  • the distance of the foot of the ladder from the wall
  • the height of the top of the ladder up the wall.

The ratio of these two distances must be 1:4

a)   Show that the angle between the ladder and the wall is 14 to the nearest degree.

b)   Steve's ladder is 5 metres long. How far from the wall should he place the foot of the ladder? Give your answer to an appropriate level of accuracy.

c)   Show how you used a different method to check your answer to part b.

Return to Top