Convert Metric Lengths

Metric Length: Learn

The meter is the metric unit of length, which can then be modified with the usual metric prefixes.

  • A kilometer is 1000 meters
  • A hectometer is 100 meters
  • A decameter is 10 meters
  • A meter is the stem unit
  • A decimeter is 1/10 meter
  • A centimeter is 1/100 meter
  • A millimeter is 1/1000 meter

As we move down the units, the next unit is one tenth as long. As we move upward, each unit is 10 times as long.

To convert metric length among the units, count the number of steps between the units and multiply by 10 for each one. If the conversion is decreasing the units of length, form a fraction with your result as the denominator and 1 as the numerator.

Example: There is 1/1,000 of a decameter in a centimeter.

To compare two metric lengths with different prefixes, convert them to become the same prefix, then compare like any other numbers. Sometimes it's easiest to convert both to meters.

Example: One hundred millimeters, which is 1/10 meter (100/1000=1/10) are longer than one centimeter (1/100th meter).

Metric Length: Practice

Convert the units.


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