km, m, dm, cm, mm

What is the Metric System?

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The metric system can be defined as a system of measurement that uses the litre, metre, and gram as base units of metric length (distance), capacity (volume), and weight (mass) respectively.

To measure larger or smaller quantities, we use units derived from the metric units.

  • The units to tướng the right of the base are lesser phàn nàn the base unit. As we move to tướng the right, each unit is ten times smaller or one-tenth of the unit to tướng its left. So, the word ‘deci’ means one-tenth of the base unit, ‘centi’ is one-tenth of ‘deci’ or one-hundredth of the base unit and ‘milli’ is one-tenth of ‘centi’ or one-thousandth of the base unit.

  • The units to tướng the left of the base unit are larger phàn nàn the base unit. As we move to tướng the left side, each unit is 10 times greater phàn nàn the unit to tướng its right side. So, a ‘deca’ means 10 times of the base unit, ‘hecto’ is ten times of ‘deca’ or hundred times of the base unit and ‘killo’ is ten times of ‘hecto’ or thousand times of the base unit.




Base Unit










So, the units for metric length, capacity(volume), and  weight (mass) in the metric system are:

Metric Length: Centimeter (cm), Millimeter (mm), Meter (m), Decimeter (dm), and Kilometer (km) are used to tướng measure how wide or long, or tall an object is.

What is the SI Unit of Metric Length?

In the metric system, the SI unit of length is a meter which is defined as follows:

“The metric length of the path that is travelled by light in a vaccum within 1⁄299792458 seconds”.

Some of the other units also include:

  • Kilometres

  • Nanometer

  • Millimetres

  • Centimetres

  • Meters

  • Decimeters

For understanding how big the metric units are, look at the table below:




The thickness of a credit thẻ or a plastic id thẻ is about a millimetre thick


A fingernail is about a centimetre wide


A guitar is a meter long


The distance between cities is measured in kilometres

Other Non-SI Metric Length Units

If we take a look at the Imperial and U.S. customary systems, then the basic unit of metric length is the yard. Some other units include:

  • Thou (1⁄1000 of an inch)

  • Line (1⁄12 of an inch)

  • Inch (25.4 mm)

  • Foot (12 inches, 0.3048 m)

Measure of Metric Lengths

10 millimeters (mm) =

1 centimeter (cm)

10 centimeters (cm) =

1 decimeter (dm) = 100 millimeters

100 centimeter(cm) =

1 meter (m) = 1,000 millimeters

1000 meters (m) =

1 kilometer (km)

Examples include measuring the thickness or metric length of cloth, a debit thẻ, or distance between 2 cities.

Kilometer (km) (Kiran)


Hectometer (hm) (Had)

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Decameter (dam) (Drawn)


Meter (m) (Many)


Decimeter (dm) (Different)


Centimeter (cm) (Colourful)


Millimeter (mm) (Masks)


Converting Larger Units to tướng Smaller Units

  • 1 centimeter = 10 millimeters

  • 1 meter = 100 centimeters

  • 1 meter = 1,000 millimeters

  • 1 kilometer = 1,000 meters

To Convert bigger units to tướng smaller units we multiply the number of large units by the conversion factor for the appropriate smaller units.

The Table Given Below Makes Conversion Easy:

If You Have This

Do This

To Get This

Millimeters (mm)

Divide by 10 (mm/10)

Centimeter (cm)

Centimeters (cm)

Multiply by 10 (cm * 10)

Millimeters (mm)

Meters (m)

Multiply by 100 (m * 100)

Centimeters (cm)

Centimeters (cm)

Divide by 100 (cm/100)

Meters (m)

Millimeters (mm)

Divide by 1000 (mm/1000)

Meters (m)

Solved Examples on Unit Conversion

Example 1: Convert 5 km to tướng m.

As 1 km = 1000 m

Therefore, 5 km equals 5 × 1000 equals 5000 m. 

Example 2: How bởi you Convert m to tướng centimet and mm?

In this activity, you will convert between metric units of metric length: kilometres, metres, centimetres, and millimetres.

1 km = 1000 m

1 m = 100 cm

1 m = 1000 mm

1 centimet = 10 mm

Why Must Students Know About the Metric System?

The Metric System is important as without it, we would be completely confused about the units. It is completely scientific and has repeatable standards of measurement.  It uses units lượt thích meter, litre and gram so sánh as to tướng measure length, liquid, volume and mass. Students will need to tướng know about the Metric System so sánh as to tướng understand all the different concepts that will be applicable in Math and the Science subjects. Having a standard system of measurement is the only way to tướng go when measuring things as that clears all the confusions.

How can Students Make Notes for the Metric System?

  • They can go to tướng Vedantu and then look for Metric Length - Explanation, Conversions, SI Unit, Measures, Problems, and FAQs

  • Read this carefully and then make notes

  • Condense everything that’s on the page by highlighting all the important parts

  • Compare what you’ve written with what’s on the page

  • Go through everything before the exams

  • Avoid skipping anything that’s on the page

Fun Facts

  1. A tonne is 1,000 kilograms.

  2. The metric system had its beginnings back in 1670 by a mathematician called Gabriel Mouton.

  3. Since the 1960s the metric system has been known as the "International System of Units" or "SI" (from the French "Système International").

  4. The prefixes of the metric system can be remembered with the help of the mnemonic “King Henry Died of Drinking Cold Milk”.

  5. There are various units greater phàn nàn the kilo as well. These have prefixes mega, giga and tera. A mega is 1000 times a kilogram. A giga is thousand times mega and a tera is a thousand times giga.

Last updated date: 19th Sep 2023

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