# Metric vs. Standard: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on August 14, 2024
Metric is a system of measurement based on meters and kilograms; standard (U.S. customary) uses pounds and inches.

## Key Differences

The metric and standard systems are two different approaches to measurement used around the world. The metric system is a decimal-based system of measurement that is used by most countries. The standard system, often referred to as the U.S. customary system, is used primarily in the United States. It includes units like inches, feet, and miles for length; pounds and ounces for weight; and gallons and cups for volume.
One of the main differences between the metric and standard systems is their basis of measurement. The metric system's units are universally based on natural constants, while the standard system's units have evolved from historical measurement methods, leading to a variety of units with specific conversions. This makes the metric system generally easier to use in scientific and international contexts, where precision and consistency are crucial.
Despite the global predominance of the metric system, the standard system remains in use in the United States for many everyday applications, such as road signage, cooking measurements, and personal body measurements. The persistence of the standard system in the U.S. reflects cultural and historical factors, as well as the significant cost and effort that would be involved in a full transition to the metric system.
The metric system is decimal-based and widely used internationally, making it the standard for scientific research and international trade. The standard (U.S. customary) system, with its unique units and conversion factors, remains deeply ingrained in American daily life, despite the practical advantages of the metric system for universal communication and education.

## Comparison Chart

### Base Units

Meter, kilogram, liter
Inch, pound, gallon

### System Base

Decimal (base 10)
Various bases

### Global Use

Used by most countries
Primarily used in the United States

### Conversion Ease

Uniform and straightforward
Requires memorization of specific conversions

### Applications

Everyday life in the U.S., some industries

## Metric and Standard Definitions

#### Metric

A quantifiable measure used to calculate performance or progress.
Monthly sales figures are a key metric for evaluating business success.

#### Standard

An accepted or approved example of something.
The company's policy on data protection has become the industry standard.

#### Metric

A system of measurement based on the meter, kilogram, and second.
The scientist measured the chemical volume in liters, a metric unit.

#### Standard

A system of measurement used in the United States.
Road distances in the U.S. are measured in miles, a standard unit.

#### Metric

A scale or measure used internationally for precision.
The bridge's length was meticulously planned in meters, using the metric system.

#### Standard

Criteria used to judge or decide something.
Applicants must meet the standard requirements to be considered for the position.

#### Metric

Standardized units for scientific and technical purposes.
Temperature is commonly recorded in degrees Celsius in the metric system.

#### Standard

A level of quality or attainment.
This restaurant sets the standard for fine dining in the city.

#### Metric

A criterion for measuring or assessing a particular process or activity.
Website traffic is an important metric for online marketing.

#### Standard

Norms established for technical processes.
The new encryption protocol has been adopted as a security standard.

#### Metric

Of or relating to the metric system of measurement.

#### Standard

Serving as or conforming to an established or accepted measurement or value
A standard unit of volume.

#### Metric

(music) Of or relating to the meter of a piece of music.

#### Standard

Widely recognized or employed as a model of authority or excellence
A standard reference work.

## FAQs

#### Where is the standard system primarily used?

Mainly in the United States for everyday applications.

#### What is the standard system?

The U.S. customary system of measurement, using units such as inches, pounds, and gallons.

#### Can you convert between metric and standard easily?

Conversion requires specific formulas or tools due to the different bases of the systems.

#### Why hasn't the U.S. fully adopted the metric system?

Due to historical, cultural factors, and the cost and effort of transitioning.

#### What are common metric units for length?

Meters, centimeters, and kilometers.

#### Why is the metric system widely used?

Its decimal base and uniformity make it simple for international use and scientific research.

#### What standard units are used for liquid volume in the U.S.?

Gallons, quarts, and cups.

#### What is the metric system?

A decimal-based system of measurement using units like meters, kilograms, and liters.

#### What standard unit is used for temperature in the U.S.?

Fahrenheit, unlike most of the world, which uses Celsius (metric).

#### Are there any countries besides the U.S. that use the standard system?

A few others, like Liberia and Myanmar, have not fully adopted the metric system.

#### Is the metric system better than the standard?

"Better" depends on context; metric is more uniform, making it preferred for scientific and international contexts.

Square meters.

#### What role does the government have in defining measurement standards?

Governments set legal standards for measurement to ensure uniformity and fairness in commerce, science, and industry.

#### Is the metric system used in the U.S.?

Yes, for scientific, medical, and some industries, despite the common use of the standard system.

#### How is weight measured in the metric system?

In kilograms and grams.

Miles per hour.

#### What challenges would a transition to the metric system present for the U.S.?

Significant re-education, updating signage, manufacturing standards, and widespread system changes.

#### How do schools in the U.S. teach measurement?

Both metric and standard systems are taught, with emphasis varying by curriculum.

#### Are digital tools available for converting between metric and standard?

Yes, numerous online calculators and apps facilitate easy conversion.

#### How do international companies manage measurement systems?

They often use the metric system for consistency but adapt to local practices as necessary.