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Post Reply Americans and the metric system
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Posted 3/6/17
As a Canadian, I have always been told that the Americans use the imperial system. We still use the imperial system for things like construction and personal (not at the doctor) weight and height measurements. However, we use the metric system like the rest of the world for speed limits, physics, weather and pretty much everything else.

My question is when do Americans use the metric system, if they use it at all?
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Posted 3/6/17 , edited 3/6/17

TheCock1 wrote:

My question is when do Americans use the metric system, if they use it at all?

Here's a partial list from Wikipedia of when Americans (or America) might use the metric system:

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication_in_the_United_States#Current_use



Also see:

- United States customary units
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_customary_units
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Posted 3/6/17
But here it says weather, construction and transportation. In a lot of discussions regarding weather there are often confused americans if celcius is used but not specified. I assume it's because they don't use celcius. My dad has an american car and it uses miles per hour as well as Km per hour. I'm pretty sure they tend to use MPH. It's written construction but even in Canada we don't use the metric system for construction so this also seems wrong.

I want to know when they actually use the metric system.
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Posted 3/6/17
its back and fourth. for everyday stuff where average Americans are involved, we use imperial. for more advanced stuff like science where you're not dealing with an everyday person, metric will be used
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Posted 3/6/17
mostly in academic settings i think (such as when solving physics / chemistry problems)
most of the time, people use the imperial system.
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Posted 3/6/17

b17bomber wrote:

its back and fourth. for everyday stuff where average Americans are involved, we use imperial. for more advanced stuff like science where you're not dealing with an everyday person, metric will be used


Thanks mate.
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25 / M / CAN, ON
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Posted 3/6/17
to each their own.

mm above all else.

If I want to build a work bench, inches is all you need, because it just needs to function, and if I want to build a Sky scraper, hmmmmmm
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Posted 3/6/17

TheCock1 wrote:

But here it says weather, construction and transportation. In a lot of discussions regarding weather there are often confused americans if celcius is used but not specified. I assume it's because they don't use celcius. My dad has an american car and it uses miles per hour as well as Km per hour. I'm pretty sure they tend to use MPH. It's written construction but even in Canada we don't use the metric system for construction so this also seems wrong.

I want to know when they actually use the metric system.

On the consumer end we're almost entirely non-metric. I'm not even sure whether most Americans could tell you the freezing or boiling point of water in Celsius (without looking it up first). Then again, many probably couldn't do that for Fahrenheit either.

On the manufacturing end I'd say we have a foot in both doors, as it were. Due to the global market there's been some shift toward using metric, however that shift has been by no means a universal one.

If you think that using both systems in manufacturing could cause confusion, you'd be correct: For example, something like.. twenty years ago, NASA lost a huge amount of money due to a crash caused by a Metric-English system mixup.

Outside everyday use, I prefer metric, since it's easier for most calculations. Though as I recall there are a few squeaky thermodynamic equations that are actually simpler if you convert to the English system and then convert back to metric afterwards.
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Posted 3/6/17
Only when I travel out of the country.

I really wish we would convert but we're too far gone for that change.
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Posted 3/6/17
I can convert stuff like weight, distance etc in my head, other things like temperature I have never really needed to.
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Posted 3/6/17
There are seven non-derived measurements:
length, mass, temperature, time, electric current, amount of material, luminous density.

Americans (in daily life) do not use the MKS system for the first three but the other four are metric (seconds, amperes, moles, candelas).

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Posted 3/6/17
In my experience, everyone uses the same clock, they measure electricity by watts, material is 'stuff', and 'luminous density' doesn't even pertain.
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Posted 3/6/17
From my observations, the metric system is generally used for more scientific or engineering fields. For more day to day use, the imperial system is used.
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Posted 3/6/17
Honestly, I haven't really used it since I got out of school besides seeing it as a unit of range in a game.
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Posted 3/7/17
I grew up using the metric system in the Caribbean though in greengrocers they mostly sold goods by imperial weights. When I got to the UK they used all imperial and I actually had to pay attention to feet, stone, yards etc. Then they decided to officially switch to metric so it's confusing to know which is going to be used. I can buy stuff by the kg/g and the metre now. Personally I find the metric system easier. I only use Celcius for temperature and find Fahrenheit to be strange.

For old tried and tested basic cooking recipes I stick to imperial but I'll use metric for new ones though most times I get away with little to no measuring at all.
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