- Katie Akesson
Here is a generic right triangle: Notice there are 2 legs, we use the words adjacent and opposite to identify which leg we are refering to. Adjacent means "the leg next to a particular acute angle." Opposite means "the leg across from a particular angle." If we are talking about angle b the adjacent side is 3 and the opposite side is 4. BUT... If we are talking about angle a the adjacent side is 4 and the opposite side is 3. Many students are confused by this because the opposite and adjacent sides depend on the ANGLE we are talking about. In other words the opposite and adjacent sides are defined by the angle of interest. Opposite and adjacent are NEVER used to describe the hypotenuse. The hypotenuse is always the hypotenuse.
Describe how you know which side of the right triangle is the hypotenuse.