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U.S. customary units: weight

Sal discusses US customary units of mass or weight such as ounces, pounds, and tons. Created by Sal Khan.

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Video transcript

Let's talk a little bit about the US customary units of weight. So the one that's most typically used is the pound, especially for things of kind of a human scale. And to understand what a pound is, most playing balls are roughly about a pound. So, for example, a soccer ball-- my best attempt to draw a soccer ball. So let's say that this is a soccer ball right over here. And then of course it has some type of pattern on it. So you could imagine a soccer ball is about a pound. So it's roughly one pound. And a pound will often be shorthanded with this "lb." right over here. So it's about a pound. A football, an American football, is also a little under a pound. But we could say it is about a pound, just so we get a sense of what a pound actually represents. Now, if you want to go to scales smaller than a pound, you would think about using the ounce. And the relation between the ounce and the pound when we're thinking about weight is that one pound-- let me write this-- is equal to 16 ounces. Or another way of thinking about it is that 1 ounce is equal to 1/16 of a pound. And if you want to visualize things that weigh about an ounce, you could imagine a small box of matches weigh about an ounce. So a small box of matches might weigh about an ounce. Maybe a small AA battery would weigh about an ounce. But that gives you a sense of it. So if you were to take 16 of these together, they would be about the weight of a soccer ball. 16 of these things together, they would be about-- they would be about the weight of a soccer ball or a football. Now, if we want to think about weights that are larger than a pound, then we would go to the ton. And a ton is equal to-- 1 ton is equal to 2,000 pounds. And you have to be a little bit careful with the ton. We're talking about the US customary units, and this is where we're talking about 2,000 pounds. But when we're talking on a more international level, this is sometimes called the short ton. There's also a long ton. There's also the metric ton. But here we're talking about US customary units, which is the short ton. So one ton is 2,000 pounds. And to get a sense of something that weighs 2,000 pounds, or to get a sense of what 2,000 pounds is like, or what might be measured in tons, a car is a good example. Your average midsize sedan would weigh about a little under to a little over 2 tons, so a little under to a little over 4,000 pounds. If we're talking about a small van or minivans or vans or trucks, it's going to be larger than two tons. And if you think about smaller cars, you think it's going to be probably around 3,000 pounds. It's going to be less than 2 tons. So a car is going to be approximately 2 tons. So hopefully, that gives you a sense of what units you'd use in the US customary system for different scales of weights.