I'm still getting confused of what a derived unit is. I used the internet to find an answer but I'm still getting confused.


closed as unclear what you're asking by Norbert Schuch, Jon Custer, M. Enns, Cosmas Zachos, ZeroTheHero Sep 2 '17 at 1:01

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\mathrm{km}$, $\mathrm{miles}$ and $\mathrm{hr}$ are units (one of them with a prefix).
  • $\mathrm{miles/hr}$ and $\mathrm L$ (litre) are derived units.

In the SI system:

  • $\mathrm m$ and $\mathrm s$ are SI base units.
  • $\mathrm{km}$ and $\mathrm{ms}$ are SI units with prefixes (not called base but also not derived).
  • $\mathrm{m/s}$, $\mathrm{m^3}$ and $\mathrm{km^3}$ are derived SI units (one with a prefix).

You must start somewhere, when deriving something. That is why we start out by defining some more or less randomly chosen set of base units. The SI system has defined seven base SI units: $$\mathrm{s, m, K, A, cd, kg, mol}\\ \mathrm{(second, metre, Kelvin, Ampere, candera, kilogram, mole)}$$

The SI system has tried to define enough base units to cover everything. In other words, they try to define enough base quantities (time, length, mass, etc.) to describe everything in the Universe. And each base quantity is given a base SI unit. Every other quantity are derived from those base quantities (veloticy is lenth per time etc.). And their units are thus derived from the base units ($\mathrm{m/s}$ is $\mathrm m$ per $\mathrm s$).

Note that adding prefixes doesn't make a unit derived. It is just some multiples of the unit.

Also note that some derived units have gotten specific names, such as

$$\mathrm{N, Hz, J, C, V, \Omega, W,\cdots}\\ \mathrm{(Newton, Herz, Joule, Coulomb, Volt, Ohm, Watt,\cdots)}$$

The wikipedia article gives a good overview.

I deliberately say base quantities rather than fundamental quantities because the SI unit's purpose is not to choose the most fundamental set but just a complete set. Otherwise an Amp, a kilogram and a mole would never have been included in their forms.

What is the name and symbol of the derived unit for one thousand metres?

From the explanation above, there is no answer to this question of yours. One thousand metres is not a derived quantity. It is still a length quantity. So it has the unit of metres: $1000\;\mathrm m$, but can be shortened with a prefix to for example kilometres: $1\;\mathrm{km}$ (or megametres: $0.001\;\mathrm{Mm}$ or millimetres: $1000000\;\mathrm{mm}$ and so on). Not a derived unit, just a mutiple of the metre unit.


A derived unit, specifically in the case of an SI derived unit, is a part of the International System of Units. This is a group of units that received consensus across the world to be the foundation of measurement in the world of science. For instance, the meter (m) is the SI unit for distance.

In your case, you are asking for the name of symbol of the derived unit of 1000 meters. We can convert 1000 meters (m) to what we call the kilometer (km). Kilo is Greek for a thousand, so the name "kilometer" is simply stating that it is a thousand meters.

So, to state your answer simply, 1000m=1km.

  • $\begingroup$ Adding a prefix does not make a unit derived. See for example thelabrat.com/protocols/siunits.shtml $\endgroup$ – Steeven Aug 31 '17 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Steeven sure but the question of the OP is non-sensical in this interpretation, as there is no derived unit. Possibly this is the source of the original confusion. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Sep 1 '17 at 10:17

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.