The term attribute is used in mathematics to describe characteristics of an object. Common examples of attributes in early mathematics include size, shape, and color, among other things. Some attributes are best described with words, some by counting, and others through measurement.


  • The mother bear has newborn cubs (words).
  • There are three of them (counting).
  • Each one weighs about half a pound at birth (measurement).

Understanding the concept of attributes, and being able to discern and differentiate between attributes of a given group of objects is an important aspect of early mathematics. It serves as an introduction to recognizing patterns that allow us to group objects together (or separate them) based on their attributes, which later becomes useful in areas such as algebra (as well as many others), where we need to be able to group various terms to simplify expressions or solve equations.

One of the most common ways we can start to recognize different attributes is through the use of shapes.


Group the following shapes based on:
i) color
ii) shape

i) color:

ii) shape:

The above are just two examples of attributes. In the study of geometry, shapes can be grouped based on many other attributes such as number of sides, angle measurements, and more. For example, the three triangles shown above are all different types of triangles. Based on side lengths, the orange triangle is an equilateral triangle, the green triangle is a right triangle, and the red triangle is an isosceles triangle.