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Metric System Vs. "English System"

The metric system typically uses only one root word for any basic dimension such as for length, the meter. All the metric units of length use the root word 'meter' with the metric prefixes in the next table. Our common system in the United States is not really a system, but is a thrown-together mess of measurements with no overriding order.

Particularly notice the large number of units of length in the English system. This is only a small number of the common ones. We regularly use fathoms to measure depth in water and furlongs to measure distance in horse racing. There are many little-used English length units such as the barleycorn (one third of an inch) that may be picturesque, but are not used today. Notice that we define the barleycorn as a third of an inch. The way to relate one English unit to another is by definition. Length is the most common measurement. As a result, it has not only the largest number of words to describe it, but it also has the largest number of symbols to represent it in formulas. The English language also uses distance, long, width, height, radius, displacement, offset, and other words for length, sometimes in specialized applications.

Here are some differences between the "English System" and the Metric System, or SI:

  • The Metric System (usually) uses only one root word for each basic dimension, such as "-gram" for mass or "-meter" for distance. Some dimensions have more than one root word, such as "-liter" for volume instead of the cubic distance (such as "cubic centimeter"). The English System has a different name for each measurement unit, such as inch, foot, yard, etc. The Metric System uses metric prefixes before the root word to indicate the magnitude of the measurement, such as kilogram or microgram.
  • The Metric System units are arranged in powers of ten, according to their metric prefixes. One centimeter is equal to ten millimeters. The English System uses any traditional definition with any number. One foot equals twelve inches, or one yard equals three feet. Even More disturbing, the English System uses FRACTIONS of units, such as 3/8 inch or mixed units, such as pounds and ounces or feet and inches.
  • The Metric System uses the idea of MASS for measuring the amount of material rather than WEIGHT. The English System uses the POUND as a unit of weight, even though it is also a unit of force.
  • The great majority of the world uses the Metric System. The US is now SLOWLY beginning to convert to the Metric System. We see liters of drinks in the grocery stores. Our medicines are in grams or milligrams. Our food labels show Metric units.
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