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Finding an Equation of a Line Parallel to a Given Line

Finding an Equation of a Line Parallel to a Given Line

Suppose we need to find an equation of a line that passes through a specific point and is parallel to a given line. We can use the fact that parallel lines have the same slope. So we will have a point and the slope—just what we need to use the point–slope equation.

First let’s look at this graphically.

The graph shows the graph of \(y=2x-3\). We want to graph a line parallel to this line and passing through the point \(\left(-2,1\right)\).

The graph shows the x y-coordinate plane. The x and y-axes each run from negative 7 to 7. The line whose equation is y equals 2x minus 3 intercepts the y-axis at (0, negative 3) and intercepts the x-axis at (3 halves, 0). Elsewhere on the graph, the point (negative 2, 1) is plotted.

We know that parallel lines have the same slope. So the second line will have the same slope as\(y=2x-3\). That slope is\({m}_{\parallel }=2\). We’ll use the notation \({m}_{\parallel }\) to represent the slope of a line parallel to a line with slope \(m\). (Notice that the subscript \(\parallel \) looks like two parallel lines.)

The second line will pass through \(\left(-2,1\right)\) and have \(m=2\). To graph the line, we start at\(\left(-2,1\right)\) and count out the rise and run. With \(m=2\) (or \(m=\frac{2}{1}\)), we count out the rise 2 and the run 1. We draw the line.

The graph shows the x y-coordinate plane. The x and y-axes each run from negative 7 to 7. The line whose equation is y equals 2x minus 3 intercepts the y-axis at (0, negative 3) and intercepts the x-axis at (3 halves, 0). The points (negative 2, 1) and (negative 1, 3) are plotted. A second line, parallel to the first, intercepts the x-axis at (negative 5 halves, 0), passes through the points (negative 2, 1) and (negative 1, 3), and intercepts the y-axis at (0, 5).

Do the lines appear parallel? Does the second line pass through \(\left(-2,1\right)\)?

Now, let’s see how to do this algebraically.

We can use either the slope–intercept form or the point–slope form to find an equation of a line. Here we know one point and can find the slope. So we will use the point–slope form.

Example: How to Find an Equation of a Line Parallel to a Given Line

Find an equation of a line parallel to \(y=2x-3\) that contains the point \(\left(-2,1\right)\). Write the equation in slope–intercept form.

Solution

This figure is a table that has three columns and four rows. The first column is a header column, and it contains the names and numbers of each step. The second column contains further written instructions. The third column contains math. In the first row of the table, the first cell on the left reads: “Step 1. Find the slope of the given line.” The second cell reads: “The line is in slope-intercept form. y equals 2x minus 3.” The third cell contains the slope of a line, defined as m equals 2.In the second row, the first cell reads: “Step 2. Find the slope of the parallel line.” The second cell reads “Parallel lines have the same slope.” The third cell contains the slope of the parallel line, defined as m parallel equals 2.In the third row, the first cell reads “Step 3. Identify the point.” The second cell reads “The given point is (negative 2, 1).” The third cell contains the ordered pair (negative 2, 1) with a superscript x subscript 1 above negative 2 and a superscript y subscript 1 above 1.In the fourth row, the first cell reads “Step 4. Substitute the values into the point-slope form, y minus y subscript 1 equals m times x minus x subscript 1 in parentheses.” The top of the second cell is blank. The third cell contains the point-slope form, y minus y subscript 1 equals m times x minus x subscript 1 in parentheses. Below this is the form with negative 2 substituted for x subscript 1, 1 substituted for y subscript 1, and 2 substituted for m: y minus 1 equals 2 times x minus negative 2 in parentheses. One line down, the text in the second cell says “Simplify.” The right column contains y minus 1 equals 2 times x plus 2. Below this is y minus 1 equals 2x plus 4.In the fifth row, the first cell says “Step 5. Write the equation in slope-intercept form.” The second cell is blank. The third cell contains y equals 2x plus 5.

Does this equation make sense? What is the y-intercept of the line? What is the slope?

Find an equation of a line parallel to a given line.

  1. Find the slope of the given line.
  2. Find the slope of the parallel line.
  3. Identify the point.
  4. Substitute the values into the point–slope form, \(y-{y}_{1}=m\left(x-{x}_{1}\right)\).
  5. Write the equation in slope–intercept form.

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