U.S. Customary Units to Measure Distance

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  • 0:00 U.S. Distance Units
  • 1:05 Conversions
  • 2:25 Example 1
  • 2:50 Example 2
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

After watching this video lesson, you will know what the units for measuring distance are in the United States and how to convert between the units. You will see that there is a special number for each conversion.

U.S. Distance Units

Living in the United States, we have our very own way of measuring distance. The U.S. distance units are inches, feet, yards, and miles. If you grew up in the United States, then you are probably very familiar with these measurements. You probably know how tall you are in terms of feet and inches. Every time you go to the doctor, you get your height measured. The doctor might tell you that you are 5 feet and 2 inches tall. Either way, your doctor gives you your height using feet and inches. When you drive or run somewhere, you calculate the distance in miles. In gym class in school, you might have been asked to run the mile every now and then.

Inches are used to measure small things, such as the width of your thumb. Feet are used to measure bigger things, such as your height. Next, yards are used to measure even bigger things, such as the size of your backyard. Then we have miles, which are used to measure long distances, such as the distance between your house and the downtown area or the distance between two cities.

The Conversions

The conversions between these different units are very interesting. There is a different conversion number for each type of conversion.

We have 12 inches in 1 foot; 1 foot = 12 inches. To convert from feet to inches, you multiply by 12. To convert the other way, from inches to feet, you divide by 12. Remember that if you are going from larger to smaller, you multiply and when you go from smaller to larger, you divide.

Next, we have 3 feet in 1 yard; 1 yard = 3 feet. What do you think you need to do to convert from yards to feet? Yes, we multiply by 3. To convert from feet to yards, you divide by 3.

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