a (metric) unit

Guest   Thu Jan 12, 2006 10:23 pm GMT
Here in the United Kingdom we have adopted the 'Metric system' but unlike our European friends across on the mainland we have also retrained some of our Imperial system which you also use in the USA.

The Speed signs are in Miles and distance is also measured in miles at well. You would also hear many people refer to their weight in 'pounds' or 'stones'.

I think the USA has adopted the metric system but in part like the United Kingdom.
Jim   Fri Jan 13, 2006 1:50 am GMT
"It's only the metric system. Who cares? It's not as important as Imperial." writes Adam in his usual style. Well, on a global scale the metric system is arguably much more important than the Imperial system but this doesn't really matter when it comes to pluralisation. The same rules apply for pluralisation of "ounce" as apply for pluralisation of "gram". By the way, the American system is very similar to but not excatly the same as the Imperial system.
Guest   Fri Jan 13, 2006 1:53 am GMT
<By the way, the American system is very similar to but not excatly the same as the Imperial system. >

Yeah I have knew that. I should of mentioned that in my last post. What is the name of that system?

Or is it just called 'American Imperial system'?
kathy   Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:27 am GMT

By the way, I help English expression for the Japanese chemists completing their research papers and presentation in English. The question concerning sg./pl. form for the measurement unit came from one of them, and I do not know the grammar I can explain to him.
Adam   Fri Jan 13, 2006 10:02 am GMT
Canada has supposedly changed to Metric but, like in Britain, most members of the public use Imperial measurements because they are more recognisable to them than Metric. In Britain (and America and most Commonwealth countries) you use Imperial measurements when doing most things.

If most of the rest of the world uses Metric, then it's there problem. Britain, and her children (America, Australia, etc) usually do these things better than any other countries.
Adam   Fri Jan 13, 2006 10:07 am GMT
And it's about time the British Government told the EU to sod off and stop forcing dictator NAPOLEON'S (a guy who tried to invade England) Metric measurements upon us (what next? Measurements created by Hitler to be forced upon us?) as most British people, the very vast majority, do not like metric. The rest of the world can do what they like.

From The Yardstick, number 6, March 1998

Conclusive evidence of the unpopularity of metric measures in all age groups

Until recently we quoted the 1995 Gallup survey for evidence to support our contention that the general public continues to think in terms of imperial units and prefers to do so rather than convert to metric. The Trago Mills survey of its own customers last August, although only a local exercise, provided valuable current corroboration, showing that 83% favour pints against 15% for litres (Gallup 87/10), 82% pounds v. 16% kilograms (Gallup 87/10), 72% yards v. 25% metres (69/26), 87% miles v. 11% kilometres (95/3), etc.

In December, however, we were presented with all the evidence concerning popular opinion that we could want, in the form of a scientific, independent, comprehensive, nation-wide survey commissioned by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Ltd, one of Britain's biggest advertising agencies, and conducted by Research Services Ltd, a leading market research company. Its key findings are:

· 74% of the public find imperial units more convenient than metric;

· the preference for customary measures covers all age-groups, even the metric-educated 15-24 year-olds, and all regions of the country;

· only 7% are in favour of government policy which would make all printing and packaging (for labelling and display, and including ingredients in published recipes) exclusively metric; whereas three times as many (21%) favour sole use of imperial units, and ten times as many (70%) would prefer a system of dual marking (allowing customers to use whichever is convenient for any requirement).

Christopher Booker's feature in The Sunday Telegraph on 21st December, brilliantly publicized this report. The Guardian carried a prominent account of it on 2nd January.

Please take every opportunity of quoting these results in correspondence with officials! The public are clearly on our side.


What Britain really thinks about going metric

(Extracts from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Ltd's report, November 1997)


The research:

• A survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 British adults aged 15+, carried out by RSL in November 1997.

The findings:

• An overwhelming majority of the British public (74%) find feet and inches, pints and pounds, to be more convenient for most everyday purposes than their metric equivalents.

• The preference for customary units is stronger than that for metric across all age groups, including the metric-educated 15-24s, and across all regions of the country.

• Women are significantly more likely to prefer customary measures than men. 82% say they find the Imperial system more convenient for most everyday purposes.

• Only a tiny minority — 7% — are in favour of the current move towards printing the packaging for goods, and the ingredients listed in recipes, solely in metric measurements.

• Three times as many — 21% — would prefer these to be given in Imperial measures only.

• Ten times as many — 70% — would prefer a system of dual labelling, which would allow the consumer to choose the system which suited him or her the best.

The companies:

• RSL is one of Britain's most respected independent market research companies.

• Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Ltd. is Britain's leading advertising agency.


by Warwick Cairns, Board Planning Director, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO LTD

Why is it that boy-racer motorists in their early twenties will tell you how many 'miles per gallon' their souped-up Ford Escorts will do, when so few of them will ever have bought petrol in anything but litres? Why is it that children, when you ask them how tall they are, or how much they weigh, will give you the answer in feet and inches and stones and pounds, when all they have ever learned at school is metres and kilograms? And why is it that so many cooks still talk about 'half a pound of butter', when butter has been sold, for years, in 250g blocks?

The received wisdom has it that people do these things because metrication is still in a transitional stage. People — and particularly young people — are mainly metric nowadays, the received wisdom says, but occasionally they will use the 'old' system, where they have to, in a dwindling number of circumstances. But things, it is thought, are changing: already, most packaged goods come in metric sizes, and more and more manufacturers and retailers are dropping the 'supplementary' Imperial equivalents (the little figures in brackets that tell you how much 250 grams are in ounces, for example) from their packs. More and more recipes in books and newspapers and magazines are printed in metric units only. In the next few years, some of the last bastions of the 'old' system — street markets and shops selling loose goods — will be required by law to make the switch, or risk heavy fines or imprisonment. This is felt to be what people want, and to be in everybody's interest. When the legal process is complete, the received wisdom has it that Britain's customary weights and measures will be abandoned altogether, and will come to be regarded merely as historical curiosities.

This research has been designed to test the received wisdom. It has two aims:

• To see which system of measurements people in Britain — both young and old — really feel most comfortable with.

• To see whether they actually want all of the goods they buy, and all the instructions and articles and recipes they read, to be wholly metric.


Between the 14th and the 18th of November 1997, a random sample of 1,000 British adults aged 15+ were interviewed in their homes by executives of the research company RSL's computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) division.

The sample was chosen to be nationally representative, using the same 58 Area Groupings used by the National Readership Survey (NRS), based on the Registrar-General's 11 Standard regions and the 12 ISBA television regions. All areas of the country (excluding the Shetlands and Orkney Islands) were covered. Quota controls were set for age and sex, for social class and for the balance of the kinds of areas the respondents lived in (as determined by the ACORN housing type classification).

They were each asked two questions, and given a range of multiple-choice answers to choose from.


1. Thinking about weights and measures, which kinds of measurement do you generally find most convenient for everyday purposes?

(a) Imperial measurements such as feet & inches, pounds and pints

(b) Metric measurements such as metres, kilograms and litres

2. On packaging for food and drink and in publications such as cookery books and magazines, how do you think weights and measures should be classified?

(a) Pounds and pints only; (b) Kilograms and litres only; (c) Both systems


Overall preference, and preference by sex

• An overwhelming majority of the British public — 74% — say that they generally find the Imperial system more convenient for everyday purposes.

• Women in particular prefer British customary measures — 82% say they find Imperial more convenient, compared with only 12% who prefer metric.

Preference by age

• Teenagers and young adults in their early twenties are more well-disposed towards the metric system: 43% say that they find it most convenient. However...

• ...even amongst this age group — the product of a wholly Metric education system — a clear majority (51%) say that they find Imperial most convenient for everyday purposes.

Preference by region

• There is a clear and huge majority preferring pounds, pints, feet and inches across the country.

• However, in urban and industrialised areas like London and the East Midlands, the preference for Imperial is a little less pronounced than it is in more rural regions.

Classification of packaged goods/recipes etc.

• When given the choice of how packaged goods should be labelled, and how recipes should be published, the current 'official policy' — metric only — was favoured only by a tiny minority (7%).

• Three times as many people — 21% — favoured Imperial only.

• Ten times as many — 70% — wanted dual labelling, allowing them the choice of systems.

• The preference for dual labelling was overwhelming across all age groups.

• The 15-24 age-group — the most split in terms of the systems they used in everyday life — was far more united in favour of dual labelling. Only 14% of 16-24s preferred metric-only. This compares with 16% preferring Imperial only, and 68% preferring dual labelling.


We are immensely grateful to Warwick Cairns, Board Planning Director at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Ltd, for supplying us with copies of the full report, and his expert statistical analysis, free of charge.

Uriel   Sat Jan 14, 2006 6:29 am GMT
Metric is the standard system of measurement used in scientific fields, even in the US. True, you will still occasionally see both non-metric measurements such as foot-pounds or acre-feet as well as hybrid things like dosages calculated in milligrams per pound, but by and large the use of metric in these disciplines is de rigeur, even here.

There was a push to switch the US to metric when I was in grade school, but it didn't quite take. However, metric has crept more and more into everyday US life -- single-serving soda cans and bottles are labeled in ounces, but larger-sized soda bottles always come in liters. Virtually all foods are labeled in both Imperial and metric, as in this can of soup from my pantry, which is marked as weighing 10 3/4 oz (305g).
Stargazer   Sat Jan 14, 2006 7:57 am GMT
Astronomy still uses strange units -- parsecs, light-years, solar masses, astronomical units (AU), etc. I wonder if they will become metric (large distances in exameters, for example)?
Guest   Sat Jan 14, 2006 10:16 am GMT
Frankly I believe the whole world should adopt the system we Americans use. We bascially develop, research and create things that runs the world.
Guest   Sat Jan 14, 2006 9:21 pm GMT
In the Electronics industry which I'm involved in, the imperial system is still used and that is unlikely to change. What is the benefit of changing to the metric system?
Uriel   Sat Jan 14, 2006 9:39 pm GMT
Light-years, parsecs, solar masses, and astronomical units are simply proportional measurements based on convenient models with known quantities. They can still be expressed in metric terms, though:

Speed of light (in vacuum): 3 x 10 to the 8th meters per second (m/s)

1 light-year = 9.46 x 10 to the 12th km

1 AU = 1.496 x 10 to the 8th km

1 parsec = 3.09 x 10 to the 13th km

Wavelengths are usually expressed in units ranging from nanometers (gamma rays) to kilometers (radio waves); masses, including solar masses, are generally expressed in kilograms.
Uriel   Sat Jan 14, 2006 9:51 pm GMT
I would think that in fields where you do a lot of mathematical calculation, metric might be easier, since it's all base-10.
Sander   Sat Jan 14, 2006 9:54 pm GMT
=>Britain, and her children (America, Australia, etc) <=

Hahahaha, do you actually think in those terms BNP pig Adam? You really are sick.
Guest   Sat Jan 14, 2006 9:56 pm GMT
"In the Electronics industry which I'm involved in, the imperial system is still used and that is unlikely to change. What is the benefit of changing to the metric system?"
I should have said the imperial method is still used ALOT. I was referring to the design and layout of printed circuit boards.
Uriel   Sat Jan 14, 2006 10:11 pm GMT
Well, it's not like there's anything intrinsically BAD about the imperial system, other than you have to memorize a lot more equivalents. It's the system I think in and visualize measurements in, after all. Metric is simply easier to deal with mathematically.