U.S. culture (week 49): U.S. Customary Units and Imperial Units

HTP is committed to maintaining a strong cultural component of its J-1 Program and regularly publishes topics related to U.S. culture. This week Program manager Kira Udo talks about an issue that confuses foreigners sometimes: U.S. measurements and those used in other parts of the world.

As defined by Wikipedia, “The system of imperial units or the Imperial system is the system of units first defined in the British Weights and Measures Act of 1824, which was later refined and reduced.”

Why is this important you ask?

Here in the US we use a form of measurement derived from the imperial system for measurement. As a foreign national coming to the U.S. it can be difficult learning to convert everything. Until you have to use a different measurement system you don’t realize how often you use it. Here in the U.S. we are taught from a very young age the U.S. customary units and told about the metric system, but we aren’t required to use it. However doctors, hospitals, and urgent care’s use the metric system when giving out prescriptions and measuring medicine and other units within it practice. The US customary Units and the imperial system are converted like so:


I found an app for iPhone and Android users here that you can download for on-the-go conversions. You may need it for driving, getting gas, cooking, and even ordering a beer at the local bar.

Have you found any useful tools for converting measurements? What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to convert? Leave a comment below and let us know!




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