Tag Archives: opposite angles

Proof: Opposite angles formed when two lines intersect, are equal to one another

How can we prove that opposite angles (when two lines intersect) are in fact equal to one another?

Well, first of all – let’s draw a circle…

A circle

We know that in a full circle, there are 360 degrees. This is an indisputable fact. Now, what happens if we split this circle in two with a straight line (going through its centre)?

Circle split in two with straight line...

Well, each half of the circle (top and bottom) – will now contain 180 degrees. We know this because:

\frac { 360 }{ 2 } =180

Ok, so far so good… Now, let’s draw another line through the circle (going through its centre) which intersects the first line we have drawn…

Two lines intersecting....

As we can see, because we have done this, we now have 4 different angles. Let’s name the two angles which are situated in the top half of the circle α and β

Name two top angles alpha and beta...

Earlier in this demonstration, we remarked that the top half of the circle (when it was split in two) contained 180 degrees. Mathematically and logically speaking, as this is the case, we must say that:

\alpha +\beta =180

Great, now let’s name the angles in the bottom half of the circle x and y

x and y in the bottom half of the circle...

It follows, because the angles in the top half of the circle add up to 180 degrees, we must deduce that:

x+y=180

So, it turns out we now have two useful equations:

\alpha +\beta =180

x+y=180

Do we have enough to form our proof though? Unfortunately, not quite… We have to look at our most recent figure again, but this time from a different perspective…

You see, there are different top halves and bottom halves…

x and y in the bottom half of the circle...

  • There exists top halves α+β and also… β+y
  • There exists bottom halves x+y but also α+x

You may ask, why is this important? Well, here’s what’s crucial:

\beta +y=180

\alpha +x=180

And now we have 4 different equations, 3 of which – will help us finally complete our proof.

\alpha +\beta =180

x+y=180

\beta +y=180

\alpha +x=180

Here’s why we need these equations…

α+β and α+x are equivalent (180 degrees), so we can deduce that:

\alpha +\beta =\alpha +x\\ \\ \therefore \quad \beta =x

*Subtract α from both sides of the equation.

α+β and β+y are equivalent (180 degrees), so we can deduce that:

\alpha +\beta =\beta +y\\ \\ \therefore \quad \alpha =y

*Subtract β from both sides of the equation.

Hence, we’ve proven that: Opposite angles (when two lines intersect) are equal to one another.

 β=x and α=y:

Opposite angles (when two lines intersect) are equal to one another.