Algebra
posted by Gaby .
The ratio of the lengths of two pieces of ribbon is 1:3. If 4 ft were cut from each piece, the sum of the new lengths would be 4 ft. How long would each piece be ?

length of original pieces : x and 3x
length of pieces after 4 ft cut off from each : x4 and 3x4
x4 + 3x4 = 4
4x = 12
x = 3
original pieces were 3 ft and 9 ft.
check:
new pieces: 1 and 5 , whose sum is 4 ?????
Even though the solution makes sense arithmetically, in reality this is a dumb question.
how can you cut off 4 ft from a ribbon only 3 ft long?