How to Remember Metric Conversions

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If you grew up in the United States, you may not recognize the terms for the metric system that are used in most other countries as their system of measurement. Converting one metric measurement into another can be tricky if you are not familiar with the order of the different prefixes. But once you have acquired a mnemonic trick to remember it, the terms likely will be with you forever.

  • Identify the base units of metric unit measurement as meters (distance), liters (volume) and grams (weight or mass).

  • Write down the metric prefixes in descending order of "kilo-," "hecto-," deca-," "base unit," "centi-," and "milli-."

  • Write the value "1,000" above "kilo-," "100" over "hecto-," "10" over "

    "deca-" and "1" over base value. Write the value "0.1" over "centi-" and "0.01" over "milli-."

  • To recall the order of metric prefixes, use the first letter of each word in this mnemonic device, "King Henry Danced Merrily Down Center Main," to correspond to the first letter each metric prefix.

  • Devise a mnemonic or other memory device to attach the metric values with the appropriate terms. Practice by putting a prefix with a base unit, such as "decaliter," and determining how many liters are in a decaliter.

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