In math, as in any form of communication, there are rules that are agreed upon so that everyone can understand exactly what is being communicated. Oral and written languages use vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure to communicate effectively. Mathematics uses its own form of these entities as well. Learning the language of mathematics is a key aspect of understanding the concepts being communicated. Numbers (analogous in some ways to the alphabet in which a language is written) and how these numbers are combined (much as letters are combined in the spelling of words) are the foundation for the study of algebra. This chapter will introduce the basic building blocks of algebra and give you a sturdy foundation for your future study.