Do you think in metric or imperial units

Someone just asked me how far away a given spot in Memphis was, and without thinking about it I gave my answer in kilometers. I’ve just had the habit of thinking in meters & centimeters since high school. Obviously that is the fault of the Christian Brothers, but this thread is my doing alone.

Poll in a 10 or 20 quadrillion femtoseconds.

Since I live in Britain, a country that resolutely straddles the metric-imperial divide, I appreciate your efforts to accommodate all possible answers. No doubt some people will be along to complain that you have failed in that effort, but nice try anyway.

I voted as follows:

Length & area: it depends.
We still use miles rather than kilometres. Bodily dimensions in informal contexts are more often given in imperial units. But I know my height and weight in metric, and if I’m putting up some shelves I will definitely use metric.

Mass/weight: it depends.
Similar comments, except leaning more towards metric. I really struggle with “ounces” and other imperial units of weight.

Temperature: always or almost always metric
Is Celsius part of the metric system? I think the closely-related Kelvin is S.I., but I’m not sure how it relates to metric. Anyway, while I am old enough to remember Fahrenheit in British weather forecasts, Celsius has almost completely replaced it.

For time, I use the Old Caprican system: yahrens, centons, microns, and so forth.

For distance, it’s all about the cubits.

Growing up in Canada’s school system in the 1970s, I spent the first few years learning imperial measurements. I think I was in grade 5 when we turned in our old math books and got shiny new books with metric measurements. Canadian society slowly adjusted to the new math. To a large degree, the adjustment continues.

I would say I’m fluently bilingual when it comes to metric versus imperial measurements. Depending on the situation, I have my own inconsistent internal way of thinking. However, I can switch back and forth as required.

Internally, I think of temperature in celsius, although I can easily switch to fahrenheit. Everything else in day to day life depends on the situation. Distance and speed is sometimes miles, sometimes kilometres. Weight is sometimes grams and kilograms, sometimes pounds and ounces. Volume is sometimes litres, sometimes gallons, cups and ounces.

In conversation, I often take my audience into consideration to determine what measurement I’m going to use. If you’re older than me I talk in imperial. If you’re younger than me, I talk in metric. If you’re the same age as me we might flip back and forth between the two without missing a beat. If you’re American, it’s always imperial.

I estimate Canada’s about 3/4 through the conversion process. I don’t think things will progress any more unless and until the US makes the conversion. And even then, it will take about 25 years for a conversion to be considered complete.

I didn’t fail to include more possibilities; I consciously chose not to. Poll’s too long as it is.

I voted:
Length & area: it depends.
We still use miles rather than kilometres. Bodily dimensions in informal contexts are more often given in imperial units. But I know my height and weight in metric, and if I’m putting up some shelves I will definitely use metric.

Mass/weight: it depends.
Similar comments, except leaning more towards metric. I really struggle with “ounces” and other imperial units of weight.

Encyclopedia Britannica considers Celsis part of the metric system, so so do I. I thought of making the Kelvin distinction but I can’t believe that anyone uses it for everyday purposes. I’m sure somebody will come along to tell me how wrong I am, though.

ETA: As I think on it, it occurs to me that though I think of distance in metric, I think of speed in imperial. That of course is because of traffic signs.

I work in a research lab, and am becoming at least as comfortable with metric mass and volume, if not more comfortable than with the English system. While I understand the basis of the English system, it’s cumbersome and a pain in the ass to use to scale up or down.

As an American Scientist, I ended up voting for “it depends” for each category. When I am in the lab or discussing data I always think in metric. 10 ml of something brings up a specific image of volume as does growing something at 37C.

Outside of the lab- English all the way. Tell me you need a pint of milk, I got it. Tell me you need 400 mls of milk, and I’m not sure what to do!

I learned metric as a child, but it didn’t stick and there are very few occasions when I’d need to know metric anyway. So I think in English measurements exclusively.

For me, temperatures are in Fahrenheit, unless I’m travelling. Most of the places I go to, temperates are metric, so I think that way.

I don’t have much ability to think in length/mass/distance/etc. For some reason, my mind doesn’t work that way. It’s kind of annoying.


Neither, I think in US Customary Units.

Born & raised in the US, living in a mostly metric country (Canada). Very roughly, I’d say:

Temperature, 75% converted.
Volume, 50% converted.
Weight, 25% converted
Distance, 10% converted.

For temperature, I’m getting used to Celsius.

Having wine in 750-ml bottles from childhood and soda in litres since college (I think) really helped out with the volume. I only use imperial for cooking now, especially since I’m not sure if a Canadian pint is 20 oz (UK) or 16 (US). I do still bake in imperial (US), mostly because that’s what my cookbooks use.

For weight, I was fine with kilo and half kilo, and now I’m slowly learning to think in units of 100g. I know my weight in metric but I still think in pounds. Ounces not so much.

For height and distance, imperial all the way. A metre is basically a long yard to me.

ETA: According to Wikipedia, a Canadian pint is 19.216 US ounces (20 Canadian / Imperial ounces). Huh.

Keep your filthy facts out of this, Welshman.

I was fortunate to have taken high school physics where we did our calculations in both systems and converted between them. Thus, I know off the top of my head that a kilogram is 2.2 lbs, a pound is 0.45 kilos, a fluid oz is ~28 mL, a liter is a bit short of a quart and a kilometer is 0.6 miles. I can’t easily convert between F and C though, except for those lab benchmarks of 25C (72F) and 37C (98.6F).

I’m with TBG. Born raised and live in the U.S., and I use the customary units. Having worked in land surveying as a young man, I’ve also become used to thinking in some useful, if arcane measurements also…Leagues, sections, chains, rods, links etc. If necessary, I can make fairly quick (if rough) mental conversions to metric for the most common measurements. Except for temperature conversions…the farenheit-to-celcius thing always gets me. Lessee…is it T5/9+32, no wait…32-(T9/5)…no…oh hell, double the F and subtract 32…no, wait…

Nevermind, I’ll just google “celcius-to-farenheit conversion” and plug it in…dammit it’s too hot! or too bloody cold, never mind what the thermometer says!

Entirely metric now. It’s been almost 40 years since Australia switched.

The last time I was in Canada (using the ferry system between Tsawwassen and Vancouver Island) all the signs on the ferries were in feet and inches. And if you go to a sporting goods store in deepest Canada, you will buy your fishing weights in pounds or ounces.

Metric for everything except a person’s height. I’m starting to recognise that a 1.8m person is about 6’ but it doesn’t come as naturally to me as thinking of temperature in celsius or weight in kilograms.

Length and area: almost always feet, inches, miles, etc. unless it’s a smallish unit where inches seems too big, then I’ll use cm and mm. I have particular trouble conceptualizing kilometers.

Mass: always pounds and ounces.

Volume: it depends. Gasoline and milk are gallons, ice cream is pints and quarts. Anything else is liters and milliliters, because I drink a lot of soda and have memorized the metric amounts in various sized bottles.

Temperature: always Fahrenheit, but if you give me a temperature in Celsius I don’t have much trouble figuring out how warm/cold it is and if speaking to someone who needed a temperature in metric I could ballpark it pretty easily.

Edit: I’m American.

Small measurements, I am bi-measurable, inches or mm. Laying stuff out I actually prefer mm as there are no fractions.
Large distances? Miles, but I can do Klicks.
Volume, either way.
Mass? I can go either way, but I convert in my head to lbs.

I take it that you don’t live in the US.