How is the Metric System Simpler?

Our existing system has units of measure related by various numbers that can be difficult to multiply and divide, but in the metric system units are related by powers of ten, making the math much simpler. Here is a comparison of how units are related in both systems.

WEIGHT
U.S. SYSTEM (Avoidupois)   METRIC SYSTEM
UnitAbbreviationEquivalents   UnitAbbreviationEquivalents
Ounceoz.0.0625 pound   Microgramµg or mcg0.000001 gram
Poundlb. or #16 oz.   Milligrammg0.001 gram
Short ton 2000 lbs.   Gramg 
Long ton 2200 lbs.   Kilogramkg1,000 grams
      Metric tont1,000,000 grams, 1,000 kilograms
LIQUID MEASURE
U.S. LIQUID MEASURE   METRIC SYSTEM
UnitAbbreviationEquivalents   UnitAbbreviationEquivalents
Teaspoontsp.1/6 oz.   Microliterµl0.000001 liter
TablespoonTbsp.3 tsp., 1/2 oz.   Milliliterml0.001 liter
Fluid ouncefl. oz.2 Tbsp.   Centilitercl0.01 liter
Cup 8 oz.   Literl 
Pintpt.2 cups   Hectoliterhl100 liters
Quartqt.2 pints   Kiloliterkl1,000 liters
Gallongal.4 quarts      
LENGTH
U.S. SYSTEM   METRIC SYSTEM
UnitAbbreviationEquivalents   UnitAbbreviationEquivalents
Inchin. or "0.083 foot   Micrometerµm0.000001 meter
Footft. or "12 inches   Millimetermm0.001 meter
Yardyd.3 feet, 36 inches   Centimetercm0.01 meter
Rodrd.5.50 yards, 16.5 feet   Meterm 
Milemi.5280 feet, 1760 yards, 320 rods   Kilometerkm1,000 meters
AREA
U.S. SYSTEM   METRIC SYSTEM
UnitAbbreviationEquivalents   UnitAbbreviationEquivalents
Square inchsq. in. or in20.0069 square foot   Square centimetersq cm or cm20.0001 square meter
Square footsq. ft. or ft2144 square inches   Area100 square meters
Square yardsq. yd, or yd29 square feet, 1296 square inches   Hectareha10,000 square meters
Square rodsq. rd. or rd230.25 square yards, 0.00625 acre   Square kilometersq km or km21,000,000 square meters
Acreac.4840 square yards, 43,560 square feet      
Square milesq. mi. or mi2640 acres, 102,400 square rods      
VOLUME
U.S. SYSTEM   METRIC SYSTEM
UnitAbbreviationEquivalents   UnitAbbreviationEquivalents
Cubic inchcu. in. or in30.00058 cubic foot   Cubic centimetercu cm or cm3 or cc0.000001 cubic meter
Cubic footcu. ft. or ft31728 cubic inches   Cubic decimeterdm30.001 cubic meter
Cubic yardcu. yd. or yd327 cubic feet, 46,656 cubic inches   Cubic meterm3 
Cubic milecu. mi. or mi35,451,776,000 cubic yards, 147,197,952,000 cubic feet   Cubic kilometerkm31,000,000,000 cubic meters

A System in the Metric System

Start with a basic unit for each category of measurement, as follows: the meter for length, the gram for weight, and the liter for capacity.

Then have a standard set of prefixes to define the fraction or multiple of the basic unit, as follows:
micro = 0.000001 = one millionth
milli = 0.001 = one thousandth
centi = 0.01 = one hundredth
deci = 0.1 = one tenth
deka = 10 = ten
hecto = 100 = one hundred
kilo = 1,000 = one thousand
mega = 1,000,000 = one million

So, for example, one microgram is a millionth of a gram and one kilometer is one thousand meters. But some of the prefixes are not used with some of the units, some are rarely used, and there are a few units that don’t follow this pattern, such as the metric ton instead of megaton for one million grams, and the hectare for 10,000 square meters.


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