6.3 Special Products
Learning Objectives
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
 Square a binomial using the Binomial Squares Pattern
 Multiply conjugates using the Product of Conjugates Pattern
 Recognize and use the appropriate special product pattern
Square a Binomial Using the Binomial Squares Pattern
Mathematicians like to look for patterns that will make their work easier. A good example of this is squaring binomials. While you can always get the product by writing the binomial twice and using the methods of the last section, there is less work to do if you learn to use a pattern.
Let’s start by looking at .  
What does this mean?  
It means to multiply by itself.  
Then, using FOIL, we get:  
Combining like terms gives: 
Here’s another one:  
Multiply by itself.  
Using FOIL, we get:  
And combining like terms: 
And one more:  
Multiply.  
Use FOIL:  
Combine like terms. 
Look at these results. Do you see any patterns?
What about the number of terms? In each example we squared a binomial and the result was a trinomial.
Now look at the first term in each result. Where did it come from?
The first term is the product of the first terms of each binomial. Since the binomials are identical, it is just the square of the first term!
To get the first term of the product, square the first term.
Where did the last term come from? Look at the examples and find the pattern.
The last term is the product of the last terms, which is the square of the last term.
To get the last term of the product, square the last term.
Finally, look at the middle term. Notice it came from adding the “outer” and the “inner” terms—which are both the same! So the middle term is double the product of the two terms of the binomial.
To get the middle term of the product, multiply the terms and double their product.
Putting it all together:
If and are real numbers,
HOW TO:
To square a binomial:
 square the first term
 square the last term
 double their product
A number example helps verify the pattern.
Square the first term.  
Square the last term.  
Double their product.  
Simplify.  
Simplify. 
To multiply usually you’d follow the Order of Operations.
The pattern works!
EXAMPLE 1
Multiply: .
Square the first term.  
Square the last term.  
Double the product.  
Simplify. 
TRY IT 1.1
Multiply: .
Show answer
TRY IT 1.2
Multiply: .
Show answer
EXAMPLE 2
Multiply: .
Square the first term.  
Square the last term.  
Double the product.  
Simplify. 
TRY IT 2.1
Multiply: .
Show answer
TRY IT 2.2
Multiply: .
Show answer
EXAMPLE 3
Multiply: .
Square the first term.  
Square the last term.  
Double the product.  
Simplify. 
Once you become comfortable with using the pattern (or formula), you can apply it after determining the values of and .
Here the value of is and is . That means you can substitute and in the pattern for squaring a binomial.  
Use the pattern or formula.  
Simplify. 
TRY IT 3.1
Multiply: .
Show answer
TRY IT 3.2
Multiply: .
Show answer
EXAMPLE 4
Multiply: .
Here the value of is and is . That means you can substitute and in the pattern for squaring a binomial.  
Use the pattern.  
Simplify. 
TRY IT 4.1
Multiply: .
Show answer
TRY IT 4.2
Multiply: .
Show answer
EXAMPLE 5
Multiply: .
Here the value of is and is . That means you can substitute and in the pattern for squaring a binomial.  
Use the pattern or formula.  
Simplify. 
TRY IT 5.1
Multiply: .
Show answer
TRY IT 5.2
Multiply: .
Show answer
Multiply Conjugates Using the Product of Conjugates Pattern
We just saw a pattern for squaring binomials that we can use to make multiplying some binomials easier. Similarly, there is a pattern for another product of binomials. But before we get to it, we need to introduce some vocabulary.
What do you notice about these pairs of binomials?
Look at the first term of each binomial in each pair.
Notice the first terms are the same in each pair.
Look at the last terms of each binomial in each pair.
Notice the last terms are the same in each pair.
Notice how each pair has one sum and one difference.
A pair of binomials that each have the same first term and the same last term, but one is a sum and one is a difference has a special name. It is called a conjugate pair and is of the form .
Conjugate Pair
A conjugate pair is two binomials of the form
The pair of binomials each have the same first term and the same last term, but one binomial is a sum and the other is a difference.
There is a nice pattern for finding the product of conjugates. You could, of course, simply FOIL to get the product, but using the pattern makes your work easier.
Let’s look for the pattern by using FOIL to multiply some conjugate pairs.
Each first term is the product of the first terms of the binomials, and since they are identical it is the square of the first term.
The last term came from multiplying the last terms, the square of the last term.
What do you observe about the products?
The product of the two binomials is also a binomial! Most of the products resulting from FOIL have been trinomials.
Why is there no middle term? Notice the two middle terms you get from FOIL combine to 0 in every case, the result of one addition and one subtraction.
The product of conjugates is always of the form . This is called a difference of squares.
This leads to the pattern:
Product of Conjugates Pattern
If and are real numbers,
The product is called a difference of squares.
To multiply conjugates, square the first term, square the last term, and write the product as a difference of squares.
Let’s test this pattern with a numerical example.
It is the product of conjudgates, so the result will be the difference of two squares.  ____ – ____ 
Square the first term.  
Square the last term.  
Simplify.  
Simplify.  
What do you get using the order of operations?  
Notice, the result is the same!
EXAMPLE 6
Multiply: .
First, recognize this as a product of conjugates. The binomials have the same first terms, and the same last terms, and one binomial is a sum and the other is a difference.
It fits the pattern.  
Square the first term, x.  
Square the last term, 8.  
The product is a difference of squares. 
TRY IT 6.1
Multiply: .
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TRY IT 6.2
Multiply: .
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EXAMPLE 7
Multiply: .
Are the binomials conjugates? YES
It is the product of conjugates.  
Square the first term, .  
Square the last term, .  
Simplify. The product is a difference of squares. 
TRY IT 7.1
Multiply: .
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TRY IT 7.2
Multiply: .
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The binomials in the next example may look backwards – the variable is in the second term. But the two binomials are still conjugates, so we use the same pattern to multiply them.
EXAMPLE 8
Find the product: .
It is the product of conjugates.  
Use the pattern. Here and .  
Simplify. 
TRY IT 8.1
Multiply: .
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TRY IT 8.2
Multiply: .
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Now we’ll multiply conjugates that have two variables.
EXAMPLE 9
Find the product: .
This fits the pattern of product of conjugates.  
Use the pattern. Here and .  
Simplify. 
TRY IT 9.1
Find the product: .
Show answer
TRY IT 9.2
Find the product: .
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EXAMPLE 10
Find the product: .
This fits the pattern of product of conjugates.  
Use the pattern. Here and .  
Simplify. 
TRY IT 10.1
Find the product: .
Show answer
TRY IT 10.2
Find the product: .
Show answer
EXAMPLE 11
Find the product: .
This fits the pattern of product of conjugates.  
Use the pattern. Here and .  
Simplify. 
TRY IT 11.1
Find the product: .
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TRY IT 11.2
Find the product: .
Show answer
Recognize and Use the Appropriate Special Product Pattern
We just developed special product patterns for Binomial Squares and for the Product of Conjugates. The products look similar, so it is important to recognize when it is appropriate to use each of these patterns and to notice how they differ. Look at the two patterns together and note their similarities and differences.
Binomial Squares  Product of Conjugates 
– Squaring a binomial  – Multiplying conjugates 
– Product is a trinomial  – Product is a binomial 
– Inner and outer terms with FOIL are the same.  – Inner and outer terms with FOIL are opposites. 
– Middle term is double the product of the terms.  – There is no middle term. 
EXAMPLE 12
Choose the appropriate pattern and use it to find the product:
a) b) c) d)
 These are conjugates. They have the same first numbers, and the same last numbers, and one binomial is a sum and the other is a difference. It fits the Product of Conjugates pattern.
Use the pattern. Simplify.  We are asked to square a binomial. It fits the binomial squares pattern.
Use the pattern. Simplify.  Again, we will square a binomial so we use the binomial squares pattern.
Use the pattern. Simplify.  This product does not fit the patterns, so we will use FOIL.
Use FOIL. Simplify.
TRY IT 12.1
Choose the appropriate pattern and use it to find the product:
a) b) c) d)
Show answer
a) FOIL; b) Binomial Squares; c) Binomial Squares; d) Product of Conjugates;
TRY IT 12.2
Choose the appropriate pattern and use it to find the product:
a) b) c) d)
Show answer
a) Binomial Squares; b) Product of Conjugates; c) FOIL; d) Binomial Squares;
Access these online resources for additional instruction and practice with special products:
Key Concepts
 Binomial Squares Pattern
 If are real numbers,
 To square a binomial: square the first term, square the last term, double their product.
 If are real numbers,
 Product of Conjugates Pattern
 If are real numbers,
 The product is called a difference of squares.
 If are real numbers,
 To multiply conjugates:
 square the first term square the last term write it as a difference of squares
Glossary
 conjugate pair
 A conjugate pair is two binomials of the form ; the pair of binomials each have the same first term and the same last term, but one binomial is a sum and the other is a difference.
Practice Makes Perfect
Square a Binomial Using the Binomial Squares Pattern
In the following exercises, square each binomial using the Binomial Squares Pattern.
1.  2. 
3.  4. 
5.  6. 
7.  8. 
9.  10. 
11.  12. 
13.  14. 
15.  16. 
17.  18. 
19.  20. 
In the following exercises, multiply each pair of conjugates using the Product of Conjugates Pattern.
Multiply Conjugates Using the Product of Conjugates Pattern
21.  22. 
23.  24. 
25.  26. 
27.  28. 
29.  30. 
31.  32. 
33.  34. 
35.  36. 
37.  38. 
39.  40. 
41.  42. 
43.  44. 
In the following exercises, find each product.
Recognize and Use the Appropriate Special Product Pattern
45. a) b) c) d) 
46.
a) b) c) d) 
47.
a) b) c) d) 
48.
a) b) c) d) 
Everyday Math
49. Mental math You can use the binomial squares pattern to multiply numbers without a calculator. Say you need to square 65. Think of 65 as .

50. Mental math You can use the product of conjugates pattern to multiply numbers without a calculator. Say you need to multiply 47 times 53. Think of 47 as and 53 as .

Writing Exercises
52. Why does result in a trinomial, but result in a binomial?  51. How do you decide which pattern to use? 
54. Use the order of operations to show that is 64, and then use that numerical example to explain why . 
53. Marta did the following work on her homework paper: Explain what is wrong with Marta’s work.

Answers
1.  3. 
5.  7. 
9.  11. 
13.  15. 
17.  19. 
21.  23. 
25.  27. 
29.  31. 
33.  35. 
37.  39. 
41.  43. 
45.
a) b) c) d) 
47.
a) b) c) d) 
49. a) 4,225 b) 4,225 c) Answers will vary.  51. Answers will vary. 
53. Answers will vary. 
Attributions
This chapter has been adapted from “Special Products” in Elementary Algebra (OpenStax) by Lynn Marecek and MaryAnne AnthonySmith, which is under a CC BY 4.0 Licence. Adapted by Izabela Mazur. See the Copyright page for more information.