Basic Accounting Equation
Or Formula

Previous lesson: Define Accounting
Next lesson: What Are Assets?

Have you ever heard of the basic accounting equation or basic accounting formula? And do you know what this is? This equation is really, really important. In fact, all accounting entries are derived from this. If you really understand it, the rest of accounting is much easier. If you don't, you'll probably find the subject pretty hard. So listen up...

The whole of accounting is based on a single equation:


Accounting = Balance

The word equation comes from the word equal.

For any equation, one side always equals another. Also, equations can be made out of anything.

For example:
1 Orange = $0,50
House = Walls + Doors + Windows + Roof
1 week = 7 days

So what does the basic accounting equation or basic accounting formula mean? Well, in order to answer that question we need to look at what each of the terms in the equation mean...

Construction Vehicle


Assets are possessions of the business. They are things that add value to the business and will bring it benefits in some form. For example, furniture, machinery, vehicles, computers, stationery or cash.


Equity, or owner's equity, is the value of the assets that the owner owns. It is the value of the business assets that the owner can lay claim to.


Liabilities are basically debts. The amount of liabilities represents the value of the business assets that are owed to others. It is the value of the assets that people outside the business can lay claim to.

What the Basic Accounting Equation Means

In a nutshell, the accounting equation above shows us how much of the assets are owned by the owner (equity) and how much are owed to others (liabilities). It's as simple as that.

Does this equation and its meaning still seem a bit tricky right now? If so, don't worry, it will become easier as you continue along.

Read through the following lessons, where I will go into more details about each of the components of the basic accounting equation and give more examples of each one:

1. Assets
2. Liabilities
3. Owners Equity

Once you are done with these lessons be sure to check out my second lesson on the accounting equation, which will give you more info and certainty on this key concept.

Return from The Basic Accounting Equation to Basic Concepts

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Previous lesson: Define Accounting
Next lesson: What Are Assets?

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Questions Relating to This Lesson

Click below to see questions and exercises on this same topic from other visitors to this page... (if there is no published solution to the question/exercise, then try and solve it yourself)

Accounting Equation Exercises
Q: Tom Jones is the owner and operator of Jones Enterprise, a motivational consulting business. At the end of its accounting period, December 31, 2009, …


Q: WHAT IS THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THIS ACCOUNTING EQUATION? A: The main purpose of the basic accounting equation is to show the real-life financial …


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