US Standard Lengths

Measuring how long things are, how tall they are, or how far apart they might be are all examples of length measurements.

Example: This fork is 8 inches long

These are the most common measurements:

  • Inches
  • Feet
  • Yards
  • Miles



Small units of length are called inches. 

The last joint of your finger or thumb is about 1 inch (depending on how big your fingers are!).

An inch is defined as exactly 2.54 centimeters (a metric measurement)

Lots of things are measured in inches from rainfall to paper length.

Measuring in inches provide us with a way for everyone to understand the size of something. 



When you have 12 inches together, it is known as a foot. 

1 foot = 12 inches

A long time ago, people had to use their own feet to measure things.  However, since everyone has different sized feet, it did not let everyone understand the size or distance in the same way. 

Using 12 inches put together to make feet allows for everyone to have a more accurate picture of what exactly a "foot" of length is.


1 meter

When 3 feet are together, it is called a yard

(This isn’t the same thing as a garden, though they are both referred to as a "yard"!) 

1 yard = 3 feet

The length of this guitar is about 1 yard.




When you put together 1,760 yards, you have a mile.

1 mile = 1,760 yards = 5,280 feet

Miles are long distances and are mostly used to measure the distance between places which are far away from each other.  Most people refer to miles when they are driving, biking or jogging.

To remember how many feet in a mile think:

Five tomato
Five two eight oh
5,280 feet in a mile


Final thoughts about measuring length:

1 foot = 12 inches

1 yard = 3 feet = 36 inches

1 mile = 1,760 yards = 5,280 feet = 63,360 inches


Lots of Examples

An inch is:

  • about the width of a large thumb
  • exactly 2.54 centimeters (it has a metric definition)

A foot is:

  • about the length of a large foot
  • slightly more than 30 centimeters
  • exactly 30.48 centimeters (it has a metric definition)

A yard is about:

  • half the length of a bed
  • the width of a large fridge
  • the height of a countertop
  • four rungs up a ladder
  • five steps up a staircase
  • the length of a bike
  • the depth of the shallow end of a swimming pool
  • the width of a dining table
  • the length of an acoustic guitar
  • the height of a 5 year old
  • shoulder to opposite wrist of an adult
  • outstreched arms of a child
  • waist high on an adult
  • a long stride
  • exactly 0.9144 meters (it has a metric definition)

A mile is about:

  • how far you walk in 20 minutes
  • 2,000 paces
  • 1,000 counts of "left-right" when marching (as the Roman Centurions marched!)
  • exactly 1.609344 kilometers (it has a metric definition)