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Difference Between Subsets and Supersets

Last updated date: 28th Nov 2023
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What is Subsets and Supersets: Introduction

To explain subsets and supersets: In the field  of mathematics, set theory serves as a fundamental framework for analyzing collections of objects. Within set theory, two important concepts are subsets and supersets. These concepts provide a means to describe the relationship between sets and understand their structure. In class 12 mathematics, a solid understanding of subsets and supersets is essential for various topics, including set operations, logic, and proofs.Understanding what is subsets and supersets and characteristics of subsets and supersets is a big part of mathematics, and especially important for students studying for tests like NEET and JEE. In this article, we'll look at some of the most important ways in which the characteristics of subsets and supersets are the same and different.


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Difference Between Subsets and Supersets

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Defining Subsets:

In set theory, a subset is a fundamental concept that describes the relationship between two sets. It signifies that all the elements of one set are also elements of another set. Symbolically, we denote subset as ⊆ (subset or equal to) or ⊂ (proper subset).

Consider two sets: Set A = {1, 2, 3} and Set B = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}. In this case, set A is a subset of set B because all the elements of set A (1, 2, and 3) are also present in set B. Symbolically, we represent it as A ⊆ B or A ⊂ B.

The concept of subset is based on the idea that one set can be formed by selecting certain elements from a larger set. For example, if we consider the set of natural numbers N = {1, 2, 3, ...}, we can form a subset of even numbers E = {2, 4, 6, ...} by selecting only the numbers that are divisible by 2.

Defining Supersets:

A superset is the reverse relationship of a subset. It indicates that one set contains all the elements of another set. In other words, the second set includes all the elements of the first set. Symbolically, we denote superset as ⊇ (superset or equal to) or ⊃ (proper superset).

Using the same example as before: Set A = {1, 2, 3} and Set B = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}, set B is a superset of set A because it contains all the elements of set A. Symbolically, we represent it as B ⊇ A or B ⊃ A.

Superset implies that a set encompasses a broader range of elements and can include additional elements beyond those in the subset. For instance, considering the set of integers Z = {..., -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, ...}, we can form a superset of positive integers P = {1, 2, 3, ...} by including only the positive numbers.

To better understand the relationship between subsets and supersets, it's crucial to comprehend the notion of set inclusion. Set inclusion defines the relationship between sets, stating that if A is a subset of B, then B is a superset of A. The inclusion relation establishes an ordering of sets based on the number of elements they contain.

In mathematical notation, we often use logical implications to prove subset or superset relationships. To prove A ⊆ B, we must show that for every element x, if x belongs to A, then x also belongs to B. Similarly, to prove B ⊇ A, we must demonstrate that for every element x, if x belongs to A, then x also belongs to B.

Difference Between Subsets and Supersets:







Set A is considered to be the subset of set B if it contains set B.

Set A is said to be the superset of set B if it contains set B.



Represented by the symbol A⊂B or A⊆B.

It is denoted by the symbol A⊃B or A⊇B.



If A⊂B then B⊃A.

If A⊃B then B⊂A.


Empty set

The empty set is a subset of every set.

Every set is a superset of the empty set.



A = {p, q, r} is a subset of B = set of all alphabets.

A set of integers is a superset of a set of even integers.

So, based on the above definition and table, we can distinguish between subsets and supersets, as well as the characteristics of subsets and supersets.


The concepts of subsets and supersets play a crucial role in set theory and mathematical reasoning. Understanding these concepts allows us to analyze relationships between sets, compare their sizes, and make logical deductions. The subset relationship denotes that one set is contained within another, while the superset relationship indicates that a set includes all the elements of another set. These relationships help us explore set operations, establish inclusions, and solve various mathematical problems.

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FAQs on Difference Between Subsets and Supersets

1. What is the symbol of superset?

The symbol "⊃" is used to express the relationship between the superset and its subset. We actually have two superset symbols.

⊇, which means "superset or equal to" (or) "superset of". 

⊃, This signifies that it represents "strictly superset of" but NOT "equal to".

For example, consider the two sets X and Y, where X = set of triangles and Y = set of obtuse triangles. Because obtuse triangles are classified as sorts of triangles, X is the superset of Y. Thus it can be written as either X⊇Y or X⊃Y.

However, there is a tiny difference between these two symbols, and their application depends on the type of superset. Supersets are classified into two types:

⊃,  represents a proper superset (where XY but X is strictly NOT equal to Y).

⊇, (Where X may or may not be equal to Y) represents an improper superset.

2. What is Superset?

A superset of a set is the set that contains all of the elements in the given set. If A = 5, 15, 25, then B = 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 is a superset of A.

3. What is a Subset?

A subset of a set A is a set that contains part or all of the items of A. For example, the subsets of a set {p, q, r} is { }, {p}, {q}, {r}, {p, q}, {q, r}, {p, r}, and {p, q, r}.

4. State the importance of subsets and supersets in mathematics.

Subsets and supersets are of utmost importance in mathematics due to their wide-ranging applications and foundational role in understanding sets. These concepts serve as building blocks for set operations, logical reasoning, and proof writing. Set operations such as union, intersection, and complement rely on subsets and supersets, enabling mathematicians to combine, compare, and manipulate sets effectively. Moreover, these concepts play a crucial role in logical reasoning, allowing mathematicians to establish implications and logical relationships between sets, ultimately leading to deductive reasoning and theorem proving.

Additionally, subsets and supersets enable the comparison of set sizes, aiding in cardinality comparisons and providing insights into patterns and structures within mathematical systems. Their significance extends to mathematical modeling, where subsets and supersets assist in representing and analyzing real-world situations accurately.

As fundamental concepts in set theory, subsets and supersets provide a solid foundation for mathematical studies, serving as the bedrock for advanced mathematical topics. Overall, a thorough understanding of subsets and supersets equips mathematicians with the necessary tools to solve problems, prove theorems, and explore the intricate structures and relationships within the realm of mathematics. 

5. Example of a superset with subset.

Let's consider the following example:

Superset: A = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10}

Subset: B = {2, 4, 6, 8, 10}

In this example, set B is a subset of set A because every element in set B is also an element of set A. Mathematically, we can represent this relationship as:

B ⊆ A

This notation reads as "B is a subset of A." It indicates that every element in set B is also present in set A. In the example, all the numbers in set B (2, 4, 6, 8, and 10) are also elements of set A.

It's important to note that a subset can be equal to the superset, so in this case, we can also write:

B ⊆ A and B ≠ A

This means that set B is a proper subset of set A, indicating that B is a subset of A, but B is not equal to A.