To think it's time the UK went truly metric.

(92 Posts)
complexnumber Thu 28-Mar-13 15:21:16

Partially inspired by another thread about the size of tv's being quoted in inches.

I know that is a trivial example, but isn't it time we finally dropped the imperial measurements completely?

Just about every other country in the world has managed it. Why can't we?

We (the UK that is) have been dithering since 1965, that's pathetic.

(However, I do confess to wanting my beer served by the pint.)

GeoffVader Thu 28-Mar-13 15:22:42

I have to confess I have no idea which is which blush

complexnumber Thu 28-Mar-13 15:32:17

Thanks for that 'confession' GeoffVader.

Can I be cheeky and ask your age?

GeoffVader Thu 28-Mar-13 15:35:33

I am 23

justpaddling Thu 28-Mar-13 15:37:51

I'm an imperial girl all the way, getting more and more difficult with receipes though.

MechanicalTheatre Thu 28-Mar-13 15:38:38

I much prefer imperial. It's crazy, complicated and no-one understands it. That is FUN. Also, you can use it to teach children the idea of base-12/base-16 etc.

I don't think it makes any sense that we only teach kids about metres in school. I can honestly say I've never used metres in my life.

I don't think we should go completely metric, men have enough trouble knowing how big 8", imagine the chaos if they had to convert to cm. grin

CandyCrushed Thu 28-Mar-13 15:40:25

Metric is ten times better wink

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 28-Mar-13 15:41:26

I am 26, use both, and use both with my kids. So they'll be another generation of confused people!

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 28-Mar-13 15:42:10

Sorry, I meant to say we probably should but I cba.

Is that a terrible Answer?

Maat Thu 28-Mar-13 15:42:17

Can you wait until after I'm gone?

complexnumber Thu 28-Mar-13 15:48:48

I am 26, use both, and use both with my kids. So they'll be another generation of confused people! TeWiSavesTheDay

Exactly, how many more generations of confused people.

Many other countries used a much more brutal transformation, over two years (rather than nearly 50 for the UK!) and it has worked.

complexnumber Thu 28-Mar-13 15:51:19

Though I doubt if it will prove to be a vote winner should any party suggest it at a general election.

Omnishambolic Thu 28-Mar-13 15:51:27

You're absolutely right OP. As long as we can have exceptions:

1. For beer
2. For milk
3. For the weight of people
4. For the height of people
5. For distances between places
6. For the size of televisions (this is doubly anachronistic since we got used to using inches based on old style tellyboxes not flatscreens)
7. Any others I've forgotten at present

And the US have to join us, or at least to start using stones instead of just lb for people's weights. Them and their "measuring cups" indeed.

somebloke123 Thu 28-Mar-13 15:52:24

I'm in favour of metric for scientific purposes but against its imposition for everyday life.

If I want to buy a pound of bananas or a pint of beer (the latter I can still do of course) I don't see why I shouldn't.

To ditch imperial measures cuts us off in a way from our culture and history. Many imperial measures are linked to everyday things (e.g. a foot to the length of a forearm, an inch to the width of a thumb, a league to the distance walked by an average person in an hour etc) and have a certain poetry I think which is destroyed by metric.

"Full metres ten my father lies
Of his bones are coral made"


"The woods are lovely dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And kilometres to go before I sleep
And kilometres to go before I sleep"

"2.4 km, 2.4 km
2.4 km onwards
Into the valley of death rode the six hundred"

MoutardeDeDijon Thu 28-Mar-13 15:52:33

What exactly is the benefit of using metric?

complexnumber Thu 28-Mar-13 16:02:03

What exactly is the benefit of using metric?

We join the rest of the world (apart from the US, Burma and Libreria)

Why would we wish our children to have to think in two different systems?

There is no logic in the imperial system, that's not to say I do not have a huge amount of affection for the system and its history.

MousyMouse Thu 28-Mar-13 16:04:55

I like stones as weight measurement.
11 stones sounds much slimmer than 70 shock kilos.

other than that I think metric measurements are just more practical. easier to compare in the supermarket for example.

I've thought about this a bit more and I still say no to metric,

what would a piece of 2x2 become? it rolls off the tongue 5.08X5.08 doesn't sound right.

My DH wouldn't be able to measure 6ft and 5ft lengths using just his hands and arms, he would need to use a tape measure, which is never where you left it.

In my house things would go into melt down.

DCs please go to the shop and buy me 500ml of milk would result in a 5 min discussion of what is 500ml of milk and whether that is more or less than a pint.

MoutardeDeDijon Thu 28-Mar-13 16:10:52

There is plenty of logic in the imperial system, it is just that much of it is a little opaque these days smile.

I don't really see why having the same system as much of the rest of the world is of a great benefit, and there would be no need for our children to learn two systems is we just used imperial.

MoutardeDeDijon Thu 28-Mar-13 16:12:30

Anyway, it is easy to swap between the two systems so long as you remember that 1 inch = 2.54 cm, 1 pint = 568 ml, and 1 pound = 454 g. What could be simpler?

Another one here who doesn't know what is imperial and what is metric.

I would like the following:
Body weight in stones & pounds
Height in feet & inches
Distances in miles
Liquid in pints

Does that make me old-fashioned or new-fangled?

TheBigJessie Thu 28-Mar-13 16:14:54


You're entirely an unreconstructed imperialist!

Maat Thu 28-Mar-13 16:15:27

Binky you are so right.

2 b 2

4 b 4

It just wouldn't be the same in metric.

People wouldn't be confused if they hadn't tried to change it. I don't care what other countries do.

YANBU metric is so much more precise and logical.

I've realised I use centigrade for cold temperatures, because I was in the UK for those and Fahrenheit for hot ones, because I was abroad. Barking.

Maat Thu 28-Mar-13 16:17:39

I don't want to be buried 182.88cm under.

Thank you very much.

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Thu 28-Mar-13 16:19:33

I'm 23 and I learnt metric in school but find it easier to use imperial as in the real world that's what everyone else is using.

MoutardeDeDijon Thu 28-Mar-13 16:20:38

How is metric more precise?

AND, if they do want to change everything into metric then charge accordingly. 500ml is not equal to 1 pint of milk, so don't charge me for a pint when you're selling it in ML!!

AND, I do not want a pint of beer served in a 500ml glass, it won't fit and I do not want to be charged for a full pint, understand beer festival!!

<must leave this thread now, I'm beginning to rant grin>

HillBilly76 Thu 28-Mar-13 16:24:06

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

MrsLHofstadter Thu 28-Mar-13 16:27:13

Another 23 year old here, imperial all the way. Metric makes my head hurt despite being doing both at school.

Osmiornica Thu 28-Mar-13 16:27:25

MrsTerryPratchett - I do that as well but it's not related to being abroad for me. It's a bit mad really isn't it.

I don't see why we should change something just to be the same as everyone else though. I quite like using a mishmash and it's not that difficult to remember both after all.

MaybeOrnot Thu 28-Mar-13 16:27:56

If it weren't for the US,I suppose we'd be fully metric by now.

GreenEggsAndNichts Thu 28-Mar-13 16:29:24

American here, once I "got" the metric system when we lived in Germany, I never wanted to go back. Seriously, dividing in metric for recipes etc is so much easier than trying to deal with liquid ounces versus weight ounces, how many ounces are in a pound, how many whatevers in a whatever. In metric it's all in tens. It's so very simple it's painful that I wasted a year in early years of school just memorising all of our silly imperial units.

I live in the UK now, I appreciate at least that most recipes are in metric. I still have recipes from the US, of course, but I've weighed out the ingredients and made notes in them for metric. Using a digital scale makes all the difference.

I love metric.

CrystalQueen Thu 28-Mar-13 16:29:28

That's right, imperial makes much more sense. 16 oz in a pound, 14 lb in a stone, 1760 (?) yards in a mile.

I don't see why we should change something just to be the same as everyone else though.

Look what happened to marathons when they were changed the name to snickers, they've not been the same since smile

CrystalQueen Thu 28-Mar-13 16:31:24

And at least a litre is the same everywhere (any beer drinkers are in for a disappointment in the US if they ask for a pint!)

galwaygirl Thu 28-Mar-13 16:31:52

I'm in Sweden which is totally metric - apart from tvs which are still quoted in inches!

MoutardeDeDijon Thu 28-Mar-13 16:32:39

But CrystalQueen it is not that random - the 1760 years is made up of 8 furlongs, each of which consists of 10 chains of 22 yards. Perfect sense.

MoutardeDeDijon Thu 28-Mar-13 16:32:48


Sallyingforth Thu 28-Mar-13 16:37:27

Yes. We've been in this confused half-way house too long. Metric is the international standard and we should be using it for everything.

gymmummy64 Thu 28-Mar-13 16:39:23

I work for a business that makes things with LCD & plasma panels (the 'screen' part of the flatscreen TV). We import them from China and South Korea mainly which is where the vast majority are made. The whole of the industry, worldwide, still states panel size diagonal in inches, it's not just the UK. That's despite the height, width and depth of the panel being specified in cm!

complexnumber Thu 28-Mar-13 16:39:58

That's right, imperial makes much more sense. 16 oz in a pound, 14 lb in a stone, 1760 (?) yards in a mile.

And don't forget 3ft to a yard, 22 yards to a chain, 10 chains to a furlong and 8 furlongs to a mile.

Perfect sense (it probably did before the agricultural revolution).

complexnumber Thu 28-Mar-13 16:41:23

And of course it matters if you are an engineer or a scientist. If you are a peasant, probably less so smile

Sallyingforth Thu 28-Mar-13 16:42:38

That's because the biggest market for display screens is the US, and they hate metric because it's NIH - "not invented here".

LahleeMooloo Thu 28-Mar-13 17:04:50

Keep the mm of metric but dump the rest (I'm 32)

complexnumber Thu 28-Mar-13 17:06:16

OK, here's my confession. I started the thread but still use imperial on a day to day basis. I know my height in ft and inches, my weight in st and lb. If you ask me some distances, I will tell you in mile. Other distances I will estimate in km.

My excuse is that I am 50+, but that does not really hold as I have been a maths teacher for nearly 30 years.

My worry is that increasingly children are coming out of school with no system at all.

And I really do think that it matters, it matters a heck of a lot.

If not, we will be seen as some sort of anachronism.

(Another little aside, I recently asked a class of mine how tall they were, virtually all of them gave me a ft. inches answer, despite them being from all over the world (european kids did not))

i am only just on the right side of 50 and was taught "old money" at school...just as i "got it" the fucking bastards changed it all!

I never recovered.

i still talk about pound notes too.......

so blame me and blame my age (i am the one with the 19" telly)

MoreBeta Thu 28-Mar-13 17:11:50

I am 49 and in that generation that suffered a few years in the 1970s at Primary school that had to learn both. My sister just 18 months younger cant use Imperial at all much beyond feet and inches.

My father is a farmer and uses both and hence I still use both and then when I worked in the oil industry there where all sorts of Imperial (UK), metric and US measures that are used interchangably according to tradition. We also used nautical miles, miles and kilometres to check the position of ships. Dont even get me started on cooking where cups, tsp, tbsp, oz, lbs, grams are scattered around like confetti.

MoreBeta Thu 28-Mar-13 17:15:17

Its a joy to confuse my children with farthings, hapenny, thrupnnie bits, sixpence, shillings, ten bob notes, pounds and guineas. Horses are still sold in Guineas.

Allows me to get my own back for all their teenage slang. grin

in canada we are meant to be metric (speedos and road signs in Kms etc) but in reality a lot is still imperial.

everyone measures themselves in feet and inches and pounds. Drinks come in fl oz measures

and our tellys are measures in inches grin

complexnumber Thu 28-Mar-13 17:17:39

i still talk about pound notes too....... ElectricalBanana

I have been known to refer to 10 bob notes within the last decade.

I am a traitor to my own cause, but I do find it depressing that so many 20+ people still claim to use imperial measures.

MoutardeDeDijon Thu 28-Mar-13 17:22:43

Pre-decimal money was wonderful (although I am just a tiny bit too young to have ever used it).
240 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, 24, 32, 40, 48, 60, 80, 120.
100 is rubbish - only divisible by 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50.

Base 12 is so much more practical than base 10.

MousyMouse Thu 28-Mar-13 17:25:28

if it were just pounds and ounces and pints... I can deal with those.

but the amount of different meaurements for different occasions is just mindboggling (I grew up metric).
fl ounce
the many different spoons
the money of the past

ChunkyPickle Thu 28-Mar-13 17:26:03

I do both, although these days I err on the side of metric (weights in kilos etc).. I'd be completely happy to make the switch obligatory.

I hate to tell you, but your 2x4s are no longer 2x4s - you'll find that most DIY stuff has been silently switched to metric, but still referred to in imperial - even though it isn't quite any more..

Feminine Thu 28-Mar-13 17:38:12

I prefer imperial by far.

I was so happy using it when we lived in the US.

Its much easier at the deli grin

SueDoku Thu 28-Mar-13 18:19:18

Tell me that I'm not the only one who, when the price of stamps went up recently, found myself thinking, "12 bob to post a letter..?!". It confirmed my kids theory that I am not only old, but living in the past... grin

complexnumber Thu 28-Mar-13 18:37:42

Dont even get me started on cooking where cups, tsp, tbsp, oz, lbs, grams are scattered around like confetti.

<Waiting for cakes as proof of argument>

Toasttoppers Thu 28-Mar-13 19:13:47

I also had to learn both systems in the 1970's, I much refer imperial and was taught to cook by my Mum in pounds and ounces.

DS has to convert recipes in to metric for me, he enjoys laughing at me and telling me I'm so last century. Eats the ruddy food though cheeky git.

oldraver Thu 28-Mar-13 19:27:07

I dont actually see the point of why we should change. Although I am old I learnt metric at school though as a seamstress have always gone by inches and yards. I can convert to metres/centimetres if I wish. I doubt people only taught metric could.

I love the fact my DS asks "can we watch tv with the 15ft long cable". He also talks about casting 'yards'

TiggyD Thu 28-Mar-13 19:36:47


We should have done it properly or not at all.

A box of water measuring 1 metre by 1 metre by 1 metre weighs 1 Tonne.
1 Kilometre is 1 thousand metres.
1 Kilogram is 1 thousand grams.

All so simple.
Now, how many tuns to a florin?

ethelb Thu 28-Mar-13 19:42:16

YANBU. I wish people were more embarrassed when admitting that they can't convert between the two (and I am v fed up that I have to be able to as we should all JUST USE METRIC). @oldraver there is no way the older generation can move between the two as easily as the younger generation ime.

Imperial is so vague and approximate. It is for people who can't count.

MrsMeeple Thu 28-Mar-13 19:50:21

In Sweden they manage to make metric complicated. WTH are decilitres and centilitres and hectograms??!?!?!

Give me kilo and millis and that will do fine thank you very much. hmm

ethelb Thu 28-Mar-13 19:51:11

if imperial is so wonderful as it uses base 12, why does a stone have 14 lbs in it?

MrsMeeple Thu 28-Mar-13 19:52:32

Though maybe there is a point to centimetres...

ethelb Thu 28-Mar-13 19:56:50

@mrsmeeple I agree the units other countries use are odd. I remember a french bloke triumphantly telling me had bought 70centilitres of rum with him to a party. I felt like telling him to speak in English. (700ml if you were wondering).
And Americans are weird with their measurements. It's either a fluid oz or gallons, wtf happened to pints. And lbs or tones. Wft happened to stone.

Farenheit is the world's most stupid measurement system, though is it even imperial, or something on its own stupid self.

TiggyD Thu 28-Mar-13 20:01:35

Much of metric is about suffixes. 100 centimetre to a metre, 100 centilitres to a litre.

GreenEggsAndNichts Thu 28-Mar-13 20:07:51

yes, and yes, to Tiggy's posts. Once it clicks, metric is so ridiculously easy. I honestly don't understand people who think imperial is easier.

Since someone upthread asked, there are pints in the US. They are, however, 16 ounces, whereas I think UK ones are 20? It's another good example of the confusion left with other measuring systems. There are also ounces by weight versus liquid ounces in the US.

I am American and I completely embrace the metric system. I don't think we should stick with archaic systems simply because we were all forced to learn them as children when there is a far simpler, more efficient system out there. I admit, it takes some time to get used to it, saying you want 450 grams instead of a pound of something at the deli, but it is certainly possible!

ReallyTired Thu 28-Mar-13 20:10:35

Metric is far more practical for every day living because it is base 10 like our number system.

However I feel that law enforcement people are better spending their time stopping rapists or burlgers than some market trader who wants to use pounds and ounces.

I believe that imperial will die a gradual death and is more like to survive if its banned.

zwischenzug Thu 28-Mar-13 20:15:39

I agree we should go metric, mainly to piss off all the old dodderers who still give temperatures in Fahrenheit instead of the post 1950s version (Celsius).

Sure I could learn the Fahrenheit scale so I could understand them, but why the fuck should I just because they want to hark back to the days of Elvis Presley.

lougle Thu 28-Mar-13 20:15:49

alanyoung, you do realise that your argument doesn't get better because you change your name, don't you? hmm

HHH3 Thu 28-Mar-13 20:46:44

When I was at school (I'm 36) we learnt...

cm and metres
grams and kg
litres and ml

Are they all metric?

In everyday life I measure in...

feet and inches for height
miles for distance
lbs and oz for weight
grams and kg for things like recipes but only if that's how it's written
oz when doing things such as baby bottles
still say a pint of milk/beer

I'm completely confusedconfused

HHH3 Thu 28-Mar-13 20:48:59

Oh, and we learnt centigrade. Is that imperial or metric?

NewBlueShoes Thu 28-Mar-13 20:53:35

I can make a cake using imperial weights in minutes, in metric not a hope.
Surely imperial exercises your brain more with all the 12's, 14's, 16's?

pmgkt Thu 28-Mar-13 20:56:38

When you buy a car they tell you the mpg, but petrol is bought by the litre?

zwischenzug Thu 28-Mar-13 21:12:16

When you buy a car they tell you the mpg, but petrol is bought by the litre?

£1.40/litre sounds cheaper than £6.36/gallon.

50 miles per gallon sounds more impressive than 11 miles per litre.


WMittens Thu 28-Mar-13 21:54:00

50 miles per gallon sounds more impressive than 11 miles per litre.

Shouldn't it be kilometres per litre? Also, the metric measurement is (sometimes) about fuel consumption (litres per 100km) rather than fuel economy (mpg or km/l).

ethelb Thu 28-Mar-13 21:56:20

People saying they cant do metric baking, a quarter (or 4oz) can be substituted for 100g. So divide by four and times by 10.

NUFC69 Thu 28-Mar-13 21:56:21

I get really irritated when they tell us that we are going to have xx cms of snow - if you say it in inches it sounds much less. If the weatherman says 10 cms, it sounds deep, but say 4 inches and it's not so much. I am sure we started having trouble with driving during the winter when we changed to metric!

ethelb Thu 28-Mar-13 21:56:36

Sorry 100.

WMittens Thu 28-Mar-13 22:04:08

If the weatherman says 10 cms, it sounds deep, but say 4 inches and it's not so much.

Just because the number is bigger? So if the forecaster said it was going to be a tenth of a metre, would you think it was going to be a light dusting of snow?

zwischenzug Thu 28-Mar-13 22:31:01

Everyone knows 6 inches is a reasonable amount and 9 inches is pretty damn good.

Another 23yo who uses both and gets confused! I weigh myself in kg these days, use American measuring cups, judge height in metres but length in ft.

I couldn't tell you what imperial and metric cover though, I just know that I use them interchangeably!

ToysRLuv Fri 29-Mar-13 01:34:30

. Imperial measures are confusing and illogical. Fun for history of science lessons, but not for everyday life. But I'm a weirdie (as dh puts it) foreigner, so what do I know..

Also, please, get completely rid of the ridiculous 2 taps (choice of washing your hands with freezing or boiling water), drive on right and use normal 2 pronged electric plugs (I won't dare mention the Euro).

ToysRLuv Fri 29-Mar-13 01:35:20

Meant to say YANBU.

SneezingwakestheJesus Fri 29-Mar-13 01:56:47

YABU. I don't think its that hard to know two different ways of measuring. I laaaaike having the choice.

sashh Fri 29-Mar-13 04:55:20


I feel your pain. I used to get a sixpence for 'tuck' when the money changed I only got a 2p. Not that I hold a grudge.

OK all of you wanting to keep imperial here's an experiment. Do you have milk in the fridge? Before you go look guess where the label that tells you it is a pint or 2 pints is - then go look.

Unless you still have bottles delivered you will find a plastic container that just says milk. The 'pint' is the last thing on the back of the label.

OneLieIn Fri 29-Mar-13 05:21:22

It's part of our eccentricity

I love the fact I can weigh in stones and pounds, but can make a cake in grammes.

Plus I love the fact hot is 80 and cold is 0, it's like we have a while new range.

And I love inches, they describe things much better grin

OneLieIn Fri 29-Mar-13 05:22:05

Lol zwischenzug

nagynolonger Fri 29-Mar-13 06:31:41

DH is an engineer so has used metric for decades at work. I'm sure he thinks metric. He can easily switch to imperial of course because that's what he was taught at school.

I learnt all the imperial measures at junior school and was very confused when all our new maths text books at secondary were cm and metres. So I went from doing sums in bases 3,8,12,14,16 and all the necessary times tables to working in base 10 only. It was much easier but even as a child I thought it was dumming down! Everyone of my age had to learn that 12 old pennies made a shilling, and 20 shillings made a pound and similar for weights and distance. I'm certain having to work out how imperial measures work to do everything made us better at arithmatic.

I have no trouble with metric it is easy, but still cook in imperial because it's easier IMO. For a basic baking I never use scales because a table spoon is equal to 1 oz. I always convert to imperial for cooking.

Baby weights in imperial are much nicer too. I know they were all weighed in metric and it was converted to lbs and oz. It's the lb and oz everyone wants to know.

We will be using miles for distance until the roadsigns change and there are better things to spend money on at present.

KatyTheCleaningLady Fri 29-Mar-13 07:55:05

I moved here from the US, where about the only thing done in metrics is large bottles of soda pop. It took a short while to get used to the metric measurements - I mean, to get an idea of how big things were in my head - but I am now fully converted.

Weighing ingredients makes so much more sense than worrying about leveling off cups and the maths on per-unit pricing at the supermarket is much easier.

Also, I've discovered that non-metric measurements aren't the same around the world. I think gallons and pints are different in the UK and the US, so that makes for added confusion.

Go metric, I say!

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