I want help phrasing the instructions in a math question. The issue is the correct way to express mixed units.

For example, if an answer is “25 inches,” I don’t want to accept “25 inches” or “1 foot 13 inches,” but only “2 feet 1 inch.”

I guess you might say that I want the total number of units to be small as possible. But I don’t think anyone would understand what I meant by that. Similarly, I don't think it would do to say that I want the answer "simplified."

  • Simple solution: Ask for the answer in meters.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 21 '20 at 2:16

Simply state:

"Express the answer in feet and inches"

As part of the question. Valid answers could be "25 inches" or "2 feet 1 inch", and with this statement, you eliminate the former.

Anyone who answers with "1 foot 13 inches" simply misunderstands how units work. It’s like saying "twenty-thirteen" when you mean thirty-three. Or expressing "2 hours 30 minutes" as "1 hour 90 minutes".

  • So. 2.0833 feet or 25 inches....
    – Jim
    Aug 25 '19 at 12:29
  • Well, @Jim, I guess there’s also the logical implications of "and" and "or", and maybe this question shouldn’t test that. If the question specifies "and", then it seem appropriate to specify a single quantity which uses both units. Alternatively, I suppose you could put "___feet, ____ inches".
    – Pam
    Aug 25 '19 at 19:06

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