A Beginner’s Guide to the Metric System

The metric system is a system of measurement used throughout the world, and the scientific community.
It is based on tens, and can be easy to use.
Let’s begin with some basic units of measurement.
Lets start with seven frequently used units of the metric system.
Starting at the left and moving to the right, we have,
Kilo, Hecto, Deka, Base Unit, Deci, Centi, Milli

An easy method for remembering this is to use.

King Henry Died by Drinking Chocolate Milk

remember the metric system

Starting at the base unit, and moving to the left, the deka would have a value of 10 , hecto a value of 100, and a kilo a 1000.
Next, if you start at the base and move to the right a deci is 1/10,centi is 1/100, and milli is 1/1000
Now let’s talk about the base units.

There are 7 main base units, and they give you a clue as to what is being measured. For example, anytime you see meter you know you are measuring length. If you see kilogram or even gram you know mass is being measured.

 I call these units the big 7 because the SI system is built around these units.

See the chart below
















Electric Current



Thermodynamics temperature



Amount of substance



Luminous intensity

metric system base units

Before modern instruments were used for measurement a meter was 1/10 millionth the distance from the North Pole to the equator, on a meridian that passes through Paris.
If you take this distance and divide it into 10 million small units, you have a meter.
If you divide the meter into 10 equal parts you have 10 decimeters. If you divide a decimeter in tenths you have created a centimeters. If you divide the centimeter into 10 small parts you have a millimeter.
On the other hand, if you have 1000 meters you have 1 kilometer.

A liter is the volume of one cubic decimeter.
You can see how they are related.
A liter is the volume of one decimeter.

Again you can subdivide the liter into a centiliter which is 1/10 of a liter.
A gram is equal to the mass of 1 cubic centimeter of water.
Finally let’s look at one more example of how the metric system works.

If you measure a distance of 5 kilometers this will be equal to 50 Hectometers, 500 dekameters, 5000 meters, 50,000 decimeters,500,000 centimeters, 5,000000 millimeters

One nice characteristic of the metric system is how easy it is to convert from one unit to another.

In summary, the base units of the metric system, also known as the International System of Units (SI), consist of seven units that define the fundamental quantities of measurement:

  1. Length: Meter (m) – used to measure the distance between two points.
  2. Mass: Kilogram (kg) – used to quantify the amount of matter in an object.
  3. Time: Second (s) – used to measure the duration of events and intervals.
  4. Electric Current: Ampere (A) – used to measure the flow of electric charge.
  5. Thermodynamic Temperature: Kelvin (K) – used to measure temperature on an absolute scale.
  6. Amount of Substance: Mole (mol) – used to measure the amount of a substance.
  7. Luminous Intensity: Candela (cd) – used to measure the intensity of light.

These base units form the foundation of the metric system, providing a common and standardized language for scientific and everyday measurements around the world.

metric system base units