Grammar Guide
Vocabulary
Measurements in Spanish

Measurements in Spanish

Quick Answer

Ever wonder how Spanish-speakers talk about inches, pounds, and liters? They usually don’t.

That’s because most countries outside the United States use el sistema métrico decimal , called the metric system in English, to measure everything from distance, volume, and temperature.

In this article, we’ll give you a brief introduction to the metric system as well as show you how to use those terms in Spanish. And don’t worry—we’ll also give you the Spanish translations for all of las medidas , or measurements, used in the U.S. too, just in case you need them.

Talking About Length and Distance

Understanding the metric system is easy when you understand that the different measurements used for calculating length or distance are all divisible by 100. For example, there are one hundred centímetros , centimeters in English, in un metro , or a meter. For calculating units of length or distance larger than one meter, we also follow this pattern. Un kilómetro , one kilometer, is the same thing as athousand meters. Check out the tables below for the translations of the metric measurements, their American counterparts, and conversions for both.

Metric System for Measurements of Length and Distance

SpanishEnglishConverts to
milímetro
 
millimeter1/1,000th of a meter or .039 inches
centímetro
 
centimeter1/100th of a meter or .39 inches
metro
 
meter39 inches or 3.2 feet
kilómetro
 
kilometer1,000 meters or .62 miles

American System for Measurements of Length and Distance

SpanishEnglishConverts to
pulgada
 
inch2.54 centimeters
pie
 
foot.3 meters or 12 inches
yarda
 
yard.91 meters or 3 feet
milla
 
mile1.6 kilometers or 5,280 feet

That’s a lot of measurements! Here are a couple examples to help you make sense of them.

Desde aquí hasta el aeropuerto son unos 20 kilómetros.
It’s about 20 kilometers from here to the airport.
 
¿Cuántas yardas se extiende una cancha de fútbol americano?
How many yards long is a football field?
 

Talking About Weight and Fluid Volume

Spanish-speakers not only use the metric system for measuring length and distance, but also to calculate el peso y el volumen de líquidos , or the weight and fluid volume, of objects as well! Feel free to use these measurements when talking about the amount of water in a bottle or how heavy a package is. Check out the lists below to learn the translations of the metric measurements for weight and fluid volume, their American counterparts, and conversions for both.

Metric System for Measurement of Weight and Fluid Volume

SpanishEnglishConverts to
miligramo
 
milligram1/1,000th of a gram or .00004 ounces
gramo
 
gram.04 ounces
kilogramo
 
kilogram1,000 grams or 2.2 pounds
mililitro
 
milliliter1/1,000th of a litter or .03 fluid ounces
litro
 
liter33.8 fluid ounces

American System for Measurements of Weight and Fluid Volume

SpanishEnglishConverts to
onza
 
ounce28.3 grams
libra
 
pound16 ounces or .45 kilograms
tonelada
 
ton2,000 pounds or 907.2 kilograms
taza
 
cup8 fluid ounces or .24 liters
pinta
 
pint2 cups or .47 liters
cuarto de galón
 
quart2 pints or .95 liters
galón
 
gallon4 quarts (128 fluid ounces) or 3.79 liters

That’s un montón de información  (a ton of information)! Here are a couple of examples to make sure you can use these measurements in action.

El doctor recomienda que tome dos litros de agua todos los días.
The doctor recommends that I drink two liters of water a day.
 
Bajo mi nuevo régimen de dieta y ejercicio, perdí diez libras en un solo mes.
Under my new regimen of diet and exercise, I lost ten pounds in just one month.
 

You might have noticed that our translation above for a ton of information was not una tonelada de información, but un montón de información. In Spanish, you can only use tonelada when referring to something’s physical weight. If you want to use ton as an intensifier in order to talk about how much of something there is, be sure to use the Spanish word montón  instead.

Hubo un montón de gente en el concierto.
There were a ton of people at the concert.

 

Talking About Temperature

In the United States, we use a system of measurement to talk about temperature called the Fahrenheit scale, where units of temperature are expressed in grados Fahrenheit , or degrees Fahrenheit in English. In the Spanish-speaking world (and the rest of the world), the Celsius scale is used. In the Celsius scale, units of temperature are expressed in grados centígrados , or degrees celsius in English. Check out the table below for the translations, freezing points, and boiling points of these two scales.

Scales of Temperature

SpanishEnglishFreezing PointBoiling Point
grados centígrados
 
degrees celsius0°C100°C
grados Fahrenheit
 
degrees Fahrenheit32°F212°F

Diving Deeper

Want to learn more about how to use the measurements in this article? Feel free to check out our articles on how to talk about dimensions, temperature, and baking measurements in Spanish.

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