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Difference Between Metric and Imperial

Metric vs Imperial

Before there was a serious attempt to switch over to a system of measurement that was universal and acceptable to all countries of the world, it was the imperial or the British system of measurement that was dominant and used in most parts of the world. Metric system is also known as Système International d’Unités (in French), or simply SI system of measurements. Metric system came into existence because of ratification of the system by 48 nations of the world, and the key agreement was the treaty of meter. Imperial system of measurement, on the other hand refers to the system used in the British Empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, after adoption of metric system, Imperial system has been reduced to a few countries of the world, notably UK, and surprisingly US. Let us see the difference between metric and imperial systems of measurements.

The imperial system is also called the foot-pound second system of measurement, where foot is the unit of length; pound is the unit of weights and second is the unit of time. On the other hand, metric system is the system that recognizes meter as the basic unit of length, kilogram as the basic unit of weight and second as the unit of second. Imperial system was first introduced in 1824, and it was later refined in 1959 and accepted by the British Commonwealth. US is the only industrialized nation still using the imperial system of measurement, whereas the rest of the world has moved ahead an embraced metric system of measurement.

The SI system of measurement is the result of effort by the international community to establish a system of measurement that was simple, easy to use and universally applicable. It is considered simpler than other systems of measurement as it consists of just 7 base units using which one can derive other units. Imperial system of measurement is actually a customary system being made up of two related systems, the US customary system and the British imperial system.

The reason why imperial system gained prominence is because of the fact that Britain dominated world commerce in 17th and 18th century, and the world had no option, but to accept the system of measurement used by it to trade and benefit from this industrialized nation.

In brief:

• The unit of length in Imperial system is yard, where one yard is three feet.

• On the other hand, metric system is more systematic, having ‘meter’ as the unit of length with a basic premise that one has a single base multiplier between different units. For example one has to multiply with 10 to get number of centimeters in meters and again with 10 to find the answer in millimeters.

• Imperial system is complicated in comparison. You know that a yard contains 36 inches but you are hard pressed to find number of inches in 15 yards, don’t you?

• On the other hand, knowing that a meter contains 100 centimeters is enough to know how many centimeters are there in any number of meters.


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