How to translate a shape on a coordinate grid using a vector. Math help.

Updated on May 7, 2018

How To Translate A Shape Video

If you are asked to translate a shape then you need to move the shape to a new position on the coordinate grid. Usually, the directions of the translation are given in terms of a vector. The vector contains 2 numbers which are written vertically (instead of horizontally like a coordinate).

The top number of the vector tells you if you are moving the shape left or right. If the number is negative you move the shape left. If the number is positive you move the shape right.

The bottom number of the vector tells you if you are moving the down or up. If the number is negative you move the shape down. If the number is positive you move the shape up.

Example 1

Translate the triangle on the coordinate grid by the vector:

Since the question is asking you to translate the shape you need to move the shape to a new position onto the coordinate grid. Since the top number of the vector is -5, this means that you need to move the shape 5 square left. The bottom number of the vector is 1, so you also need to move the shape 1 square up. Therefore, move each vertex (corner) of the triangle 5 squares left and 1 square up. Make sure you count all 3 corners of the triangle so you don’t make any mistakes.

Example 2

The coordinate grid shows 2 identical flags. What vector translates the red flag onto the blue flag?

All you need to do is pick 2 corresponding points on both flags. Picking the points at the bottom of both flags seems the most sensible. Now to move the bottom of the red flag to the bottom of the blue flag you need to move the point 6 squares right and 4 square down.

Therefore, put 6 on the top of the vector (positive 6 as the shape is moving right)

And put -4 on the bottom of the vector (negative 4 as the shape is moving down).

So the vector that you need is:

Questions & Answers


    Submit a Comment
    • profile image


      2 years ago

      thnxx a lot its a great explanation .... ^_^

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This helped me a lot, Thanks!

    • profile image

      6 years ago


    • MazioCreate profile image


      7 years ago from Brisbane Queensland Australia

      catman3000 you've done it again! Simple explanations that make understanding these concepts soooooo easy.

    • rockdresses profile image


      7 years ago from Turkey

      very useful~

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 

      7 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Very good explanation.


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