kittiecs said:

the difference of two numbers is 27. the second number is 1 less than 3 times the first. what are the two numbers?

How would I start to figure this out.

thank you

Hmmm...there's 2 answers (positive and negative);

since you're apparently learning this stuff, I presume the positive answer

is what's expected; re-word your problem this way:

The difference of two numbers is 27.

The larger number is 1 less than 3 times the smaller.

What are the two numbers?

Let x = larger, y = smaller ; then:

x - y = 27 [1]

x = 3y - 1 [2]

Substitute [2] in [1]: if you don't know what that means,

you need classroom help.