The easiest way to start to think of metric is to know some physical examples of metric units as benchmarks. Rather than converting from feet, pounds, or gallons, learn some examples of metres, kilograms, and litres.

The following table has some approximate examples of metric measurements:

Measurement | Example |
---|---|

1 mm | The thickness of a Canadian dime |

1 cm | Diameter of a AAA battery, or the length of a thumb-tack |

2 cm | Diameter of a Canadian penny |

2.65 cm | Diameter of a Canadian $1 coin |

2.8 cm | Diameter of a Canadian $2 coin |

5 cm | Width (short side) of a business card |

12 cm | Diameter of a conventional CD |

21.5 cm | The width of a standard sheet of photocopy paper |

50 cm | The length of a newborn baby |

1 metre | The height of a door knob |

1.6 m | The average height of a woman |

1.8 m | The average height of a man |

2 m | The height of a door |

5 m | The height of an overpass |

100 m | The length of a CFL football field. An NFL football field is only 91.4 metres |

1 km | 10 minutes of casual walking |

1 g | The mass of a paperclip |

2 g | The mass of a Canadian dime |

20 g | The mass of a Canadian quarter |

100 g | The mass of 100 mL of water |

125 g | The mass of an average-sized banana |

250 g | The mass of a tub of cream cheese |

1 kilogram | The mass of 1 litre of water or skim milk, 4-6 pieces of fruit, a honeydew melon, or a bag of pasta |

3.5 kg | The mass of a newborn baby |

10 kg | A bag of flour |

55 kg | The average mass of a woman |

80 kg | The average mass of a man |

400 kg | The mass of a cow |

1000 kg | 1 tonne, the mass of a sub-compact car |

1 mL | The volume of a large drop of water |

5 mL | The volume of a teaspoon |

15 mL | The volume of a tablespoon |

30 mL | One fluid ounce, a standard shot |

200 mL | The volume of a normal juice box |

350 mL | The volume of a coffee mug or a pop can |

500 mL | The volume of a draft beer glass |

1 litre | The volume of a small milk carton |

2 L | The volume of a large milk carton, or large plastic bottle of pop |

4 L | The volume of a large plastic milk jug |

25 L | The volume of a standard beer cooler |

150 L | The volume of water used by a washing machine for one load of laundry |

500 L | 0.5 m^{3}, the internal volume of a fridge/freezer unit |