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This is when you're trying to find the balanced half reaction in a basic solution. This would be the last step, after balancing all atoms outside of O and H, then balancing the O's with adding H2O's to the side in which you need them. Now, we will focus on balancing the H's. You add an H2O to the side that you need an H on, then on the other side, you'll add an OH-, like you asked. The OH- is what cancels out with the O and first H in water to add just one H to the side you need it on.
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