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I learned it this way:stapel said:There's the mnemonic for keeping the basic metric prefixes straight:
. . . . .King Henry doesn't [usually] drink chocolate milk
...which, of course, stands for:
. . . . .kilo-, hecto-, deka-, [unit], deci-, centi-, milli-
You don't usually "need" the hecto-, deka-, or deci- prefixes, but knowing where they go ensures that the other prefixes are sufficiently far apart, so the decimal point gets moved the correct number of places.
Note: Many instructors leave out the "usually", so the students forget where the "unit" (the -meter, -litre, or -gram) part goes.