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Sum vs. Sum Up: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 16, 2024
Sum refers to the total amount resulting from the addition of numbers or quantities, while sum up means to give a brief statement or conclusion.

Key Differences

Sum is primarily used in mathematics to denote the total obtained by adding numbers. Sum up, however, is used more in a figurative sense, meaning to provide a concise summary or conclusion.
In a financial context, sum can refer to a specific amount of money. Sum up, in contrast, can be used to concisely state the financial status or outcome of a project or business.
When discussing a list of items, sum refers to the total count or value of those items. In contrast, sum up can be used to provide a quick synopsis or overview of the items’ significance or purpose.
In education, sum might be used to refer to the total score in an exam or assignment. Sum up could be used by a teacher to concisely review or conclude a lesson or concept.
In daily usage, sum is often a noun referring to a total amount, while sum up is a phrasal verb implying the action of concluding or synthesizing information.

Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

Total amount from addition
To conclude or summarize briefly


Mathematical, financial
Conversational, summarizing

Usage in Sentences

Often as a noun (the sum)
Used as a phrasal verb (to sum up)


Specific, quantifiable amounts
Abstract, often subjective conclusions

Example in Education

Referring to total scores
Concluding or reviewing a lesson

Sum and Sum Up Definitions


A particular amount of money.
They agreed on a sum for the car repair.

Sum Up

To describe concisely the conclusion of something.
The report summed up the project's outcomes effectively.


The total result of adding numbers.
The sum of 5 and 7 is 12.

Sum Up

To encapsulate or represent the essence of something.
His final statement summed up the team's sentiments.


The essence or gist of something.
The sum of his argument was that we need to invest more.

Sum Up

To give a brief statement of the main points.
Let me sum up the main points of the meeting.


An arithmetic problem involving addition.
Children learn to solve simple sums in elementary school.

Sum Up

To make a summary or brief synopsis.
Can you sum up the story in a few sentences?


The whole amount or entirety of something.
In sum, the project was a tremendous success.

Sum Up

To conclude or finish a discussion or presentation.
To sum up, we have covered all the major agenda items.


An amount obtained as a result of adding numbers.

Sum Up

A summary.


An arithmetic problem
A child good at sums.


What does sum mean in everyday language?

In everyday language, sum can mean the total amount or the essence of something.

What is a sum in mathematics?

In mathematics, a sum is the result of adding numbers together.

What skills are needed to calculate a sum?

Basic arithmetic skills are needed to calculate a sum.

Can sum refer to money?

Yes, sum can refer to an amount of money.

Can sum up be used in academic writing?

Yes, sum up can be used in academic writing to introduce a summary or conclusion.

How do you use sum up in a sentence?

Use sum up to indicate you are giving a concise conclusion or summary.

Is sum up formal or informal?

Sum up is generally informal and used in conversational contexts.

Is it correct to say 'sum up at the end'?

Yes, it's common to use 'sum up' at the end of a discussion or presentation.

What is an example of sum in a financial context?

The sum of all transactions shows the total expenditure.

What is an example of sum in a scientific context?

The sum of the weights of all samples equals the total weight.

Does sum always involve numbers?

Typically, yes, sum involves the addition of numbers.

Can sum up be used in professional settings?

Yes, sum up is often used in meetings and presentations in professional settings.

How do you teach children to sum?

Children are taught to sum by learning to add numbers step by step.

Can sum be used in a legal document?

Yes, sum can be used in legal documents to refer to specific amounts of money.

How does sum up enhance understanding?

Sum up enhances understanding by distilling information into key points.

Can sum up be used in a debate?

Yes, sum up is useful in debates for concluding arguments.

Is there a synonym for sum?

Total, aggregate, and amount can be synonyms for sum.

Can sum up be used in storytelling?

Yes, authors can use sum up to give a brief overview of the story.

How does sum up aid in communication?

Sum up helps in communication by providing a concise overview or conclusion.

What is the difference in use between sum and sum up?

Sum is used for quantifying, while sum up is used for concluding or summarizing.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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