**Rule 2: To divide identical bases, subtract the exponents.**

**Example 7:** Simplify .

**Solution:** You may combine the base x's, and you many combine the base y's. You may not combine the x, the y, the 3, and the 2 into one entity.

can be written

which in turn can be written .

You can check your answer with a calculator by letting x and y take on any value in the initial problem and in the answer. For example, suppose you let x = 3 and y = 4. The problem can then be written

Now let's substitute 3 for x and 4 for y in the final expression . We have

You have just shown that your answer is correct.

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