Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Comparing Metric and Imperial Measurement Systems


Colorful school rulers showing inches on one end and centimeters on the other.

Colorful school rulers showing inches (Imperial System) on one end and centimeters (Metric System) on the other. Click on the image to license. ©Evan's Studio, 2022.

Metric vs. Imperial System of Measurement: A Brief Comparison


There are two primary systems of measurement that the world uses: the Metric System and the Imperial System. These systems are used to measure weights, volumes, and distances. Understanding the differences between the two systems of measurement is important because we live in a globalized world where both methodologies are used.

The Metric System

The Metric System is used by almost all of the countries in the world and is also known as the International System of Units (SI). The metric system is a decimal system of measurement that includes: meter for length,  liter for volume, and gram for weight. The Metric System is based on multiples of ten, which makes conversions relatively simple.

The Imperial System

Only three countries in the world use the Imperial System of measurement:  the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar. The Imperial System utilizes units such as the inch for distance, the pound for weight, and gallon for volume. Relatively speaking, converting from one unit to the other is more complex than the Metric System.

Major Differences

  • The Metric System is used by the majority of countries in the world.
  • The Metric System has base units of ten, making conversions relatively simple.
  • The Imperial System is only used by three countries.