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Converting Units

Converting Units

Author: Nathan Lampson

This lesson will describe how to convert from unit to another in the Metric System.

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Metric units exist in multiples of ten.  When we display the metric units in order, the jump from one unit to the next represents a 10x difference in amount.  In order to start, lets look at a few of the most basic metric prefixes using meters as our units.


hecto deka meter deci centi


The jump from one unit to the next represents a 10x change.  From the right to left the quantity is increasing by 10x and from left to right the quantity is being reduced by 10x.



10 meters can also be written as 1 dekameter or 100 decimeters.


A great way to illustrate converting units is to move the decimal point of the value.  As you travel to the left to units of greater value, the decimal point travels to the left for each unit.  When traveling to the right, the decimal point should move to the right.


To convert from deka to centi, you are changing to a unit that is three prefixes to the right.



If the movie theatre is 40 dekameters away, how many centimeters is it away from me? (Hint: move the decimal point three spaces to the right)



The movie theatre is 40,000 centimeters away.

Converting Units