Parallel and Perpendicular Lines
Objective Understand the fact that parallel
lines have the same slope and that if two lines are
perpendicular, then their slopes are negative reciprocals of each
other.
Slope and Parallel Lines
Draw the lines whose equations are y = 2x , y = 2x + 1, y = 2x
+ 2, y = 2x + 3, y = 2x  1, y = 2x  2, and y = 2x  3.
What are the slopes of these? You can find the slopes by using
one of two methods.
Method 1: Choose points on the lines.
Method 2: Recognize that the equations are in
slopeintercept form, so the coefficients of x are the slopes.
Pay special attention to this second method of finding the
slope. The conclusion is that all of the slopes have the value 2.
What can you say about the lines?
Key Idea
Two lines in a plane are parallel if they never meet.
If we take any two different lines in the family given above,
they never meet because they "stay the same distance apart"
as we move out along the lines. This example should allow you to
understand the following key idea.
Key Idea
Two lines are parallel if and only if they have the same
slope.
Here are some examples.
Example 1
Are the lines given by the equations 2x + 3y = 5 and 4x + 6y =
9 parallel? Why or why not?
Solution
First, write each equation in slopeintercept form.
They have the same slope, , so the lines are
parallel.
Example 2
Find a line through the point at (7, 5) that is parallel to
the line given by the equation y = 3x  2.
Solution
The given line has slope 3, since it is in slopeintercept
form, so we need a line of slope 3 containing the point at (7,
5). This is given by the equation in pointslope form y  5 = 3(
x  7).
Example 3
Line m contains the points at (1, 2) and (4, 7). Line n
contains the points at (0, 0) and (5, 8). Are these lines
parallel?
Solution
slope of line
slope of line
Since these slopes are not equal, the lines are not parallel.
Slope and Perpendicular Lines
Perpendicular lines make a right angle with each other. Draw a
pair of perpendicular lines.
If we know the slope of one of the lines, what will be the
slope of the other line?
There is a very simple explanation for the answer, which we
will show here.
Key Idea
If the slope of one line is m , then the slope of the other
line is , the negative
reciprocal of the slope of the first line.
Example 4
A line is perpendicular to the line y = x . What is its slope?
Solution
First, use the key idea. The slope of the line y = x is 1, so
the slope of any perpendicular line is or 1. Draw the line y
= x .
Next, draw a perpendicular line through the origin, and
observe that it slopes downward at an angle of 45 degrees, and
indeed has a slope of 1.
Here is a geometric explanation of the previous key idea.
Suppose there are two perpendicular
lines. 
To get the slope of the first line, draw
a triangle whose legs are the rise and the run. 
Rotate the whole figure so that the solid
line is where the dashed line used to be. 



It is important to note that rise and run here refer to the
original rise and run of the solid line. From the graph, this
means that the rise of the dashed line is the negative of the run
of the solid line. (It is negative since the dashed line is
sloping downwards). Also, the run of the dashed line is the same
as the rise of the solid line.
