Basics of the metric system plus how to use a chart to convert metric units - super easy!

This simple lesson explains the common prefixes of the metric system units and how they work. The units are organized in a table, and we learn what each prefix actually means:

kilo (thousand)
hecto (hundred)
deka (ten)
basic unit
deci (tenth)
centi (hundredth)
milli (thousandth)

These same prefixes are used whether you have meters, grams, liters, watts, bytes, or whatever. Each unit (such as millimeter, centimeter, decimeter, meter, etc.) differs from the neighboring ones by a factor of ten.

I show you how to convert from a unit with a prefix to a basic unit, using the meaning of the prefix. For example, since "centi" means "a hundredth", then 8 cm means 8 hundredths of a meter, or 0.08 m.

This table or chart is similar to the place value table or chart, and we can use it to easily convert metric measurement units. Simply write the digits of the quantity in the right place in the chart, and then READ the quantity in a different place to convert it. It makes measuring unit conversions just really easy!

See also

Problem solving with decimals

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