Metric System

The metric system of measurement is the standard way of measuring distance, calculating height, and most of the other day-to-day items. For instance, let's consider a jar of milk. We use liters to find the volume of milk and meters (or centimeters) to find the height of the jar. This is because these metric units are followed in most places worldwide and are called SI units (International System of Units). Let's begin and learn more about the metric system. 

Table of Contents

What is Metric System?

Everything around us, right from the amount of sugar you add to a cake to the length of a football field, has a value of the measurement. We measure each object according to its lengthweightvolume, or time in a different manner. The concept of "Metric System" is introduced with these measurements. By definition, The metric system of measurement in mathematics is the set of standard units defined to measure length, weight, and capacity. 

Metric System Examples

There are various places where we use metric units in our daily life. This metric system is implemented and followed in various fields like science, medicine, governance, defense, and so on. Some of the metric system examples can be listed as given below. 

  • John and Lisa run a kilometer.
  • This watermelon weighs 4 kilograms.
  • Asha takes 10 milliliters of tonic. 

Origin of Metric System

Metrication is the process of implementing the International system of units (SI units). It was followed by almost all the countries except the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia. The United States then introduced its own customary units which are extensively used in various fields which is USCS. Thus, the metric units followed in the United States are called United States Customary Units (USCS). 

Difference between USCS and SI units

The USCS system evolved from the British Imperial system. The United States metric units are also called "imperial units." The main difference between the SI units and the American metric units is the terms and the type of units used. For instance, the length is measured using the meter in SI units whereas foot is used in the United States metric units. The following table shows the differences between SI units and USCS. 

Table shows difference between SI units and USCS

Length, Weight, Capacity, and Time

Let us look briefly into the metric units that we use, along with a few examples: 


The unit length is used for measuring the size of an object or the distance from one end to the other end. There are various units such as a meter, kilometer, millimeter, feet, inches, and so on. The standard unit for measurement of length is meter. The standard tool we use to measure length is a ruler. These are some examples that show where the length measurements are typically used: 

  • This indicates there is a school at a 1-kilometer distance.
  • The height of this door is about 6 feet.
  • This paper clip is 1 inch long. 

Length: Metric Conversion

The kilometer is the largest unit and the millimeter is the smallest unit of measuring length. 

metric conversion of length

The below table shows various units of length measurement with their respective conversions in the metric system. 

Unit Approximate Value
1 mile (mi) 1.6 kilometer(km)
1 inch (in) 2.5 centimeter(cm)
1 Foot (ft) 30 cm


The unit weight is used for measuring the mass of an object. The standard unit for measurement of weight is a kilogram. The standard tool we use to measure weight is the beam-balance or the weighing scale. These are some examples that show where the weight measurements are typically used: 

  • The weight of two bread slices is about 100 grams.
  • The weight of a loaf of bread is about one kilogram (kg).
  • An elephant weighs approx. about 5 tonnes. 

Weight: Metric Conversion

Metric Conversion of Weight


The term capacity is used for measuring the volume or the space occupied by an object. The standard unit for measurement of capacity is the liter. The standard tool we use to measure length is the measuring cup. For example, 

  • A liter of milk.
  • 500 ml of oil. 
  • A cup of coffee. 

Capacity: Metric Conversion

Metric Conversion of Capacity

A liter of liquid water has a mass almost exactly equal to one kilogram at standard pressure. 

Unit Value
1 l  1 kg
1 cup  250 ml
1 l  1000 ml


We do not need much introduction to the word "time" as we use it frequently. The measurement of time is common in both the SI units and the United States metric units. For example, 

  • Akash answered the question in a fraction of a second. 
  • Jawahar took an hour to complete his homework. 

Metric Conversion of Time

Unit Value
1 minute 60 seconds
1 hour 60 minutes
1 day 24 hours
1 week 7 days
1 year 365 days
1 leap year 366 days

Important Notes on Metric System 

Given below are a few important notes on the topic metric system that will help you in understanding the topic better and faster. 

  1. The metric system consists of a set of units for measuring length, weight, capacity, temperature, etc.
  2. We follow the International System of Units (SI units).
  3. The standard unit for measurement of length is meter.
  4. The standard unit for measurement of weight is a kilogram.
  5. The standard unit for measurement of capacity is the liter.
  6. Time is measured using hours, minutes, and seconds.

Metric System Topics

Given below is the list of topics that are closely connected to Metric System. These topics will also give you a glimpse of how such concepts are covered in Cuemath.

FAQs on Metric System

How Does the Metric System Work?

The metric system works with some standard set of units such as meter, kilogram, liter, hours respectively to measure length, weight, capacity, and time. 

What are the Units Under the Metric System?

The metric system has meter, centimeter, millimeter, and kilometer for length; kilograms and gram for weight; liter and milliliter for capacity; hours, minutes, seconds for time. 

What are the Three Base Units in the Metric System?

The three base units in the metric system are length, weight, and capacity.

What is the Basic Unit of Length in the Metric System?

The basic unit of length is the meters (m) in the metric system. 

Is Celsius a Metric Unit?

Yes, Celsius is a unit of measurement of temperature. And thus, it is also a unit of the metric system.

What System of Measurement is Used in the US?

The United States has introduced its own customary units which are extensively used in various fields which is USCS. The units they use for measurement include feet, inches, pounds, ounces, etc. 

Solved Examples on Metric System

Example 1: Anna's mom took 30 minutes to cut the vegetables and another 1 hour to cook them. How many minutes did Anna's mom spend in completing these two tasks?


Time taken to cut the vegetables = 30 min, and the time taken for cooking the vegetables = 1 hour. Now, converting 1 hour into minutes, we get 1 hour = 60 minutes. Hence, total time = 1 hour + 30 mins = 60 mins + 30 mins = 90 mins. ∴ Anna's mom spent 90 minutes in total. 

Example 2: Paul saw a giant fish that was 600 inches long in an aquarium. Help Paul calculate its length in cm.


In order to convert inches into centimeters, we will first find the value of 1 inch in cm. So, we know that 1 inch=2.5cm. Now, we can say that 600 in = 600 × 2.5 cm = 1500 cm.  ∴ the fish is 1500 cm long. 

Practice Questions on Metric System

Here are few activities for you to practice. Select/Type your answer and click the "Check Answer" button to see the result.

More Important Topics