How to Translate Measurements and Dimensions in Spanish
Have you ever wondered about how Spanish speakers talk about measurements and dimensions in Spanish?
The fact that in the Spanish-speaking world they use the metric system affects the way people talk about these topics. But there is much more than the metric system when talking about this interesting subject.
Keep reading to find out what the difference is between the imperial and the metric systems of measurements, what are the units of measurement used in the Spanish-speaking world, and how to refer to the dimensions of an object or space in Spanish.
Then, try your progress with a quick quiz at the end of the lesson!
Measurements in Spanish
Talking about measurements in Spanish is quite different from English. For starters, Spanish-speakers use a different measurement system than Americans, which means that they don’t talk about inches, pounds, and miles (unless they’re visiting the US or buying something from it online).
Knowing the right measurement words in Spanish is crucial if you plan to communicate with native speakers.
Think about all the times you talk about measurements for cooking—following that delicious Mexican food recipe requires you to know how to deal with baking measurements, liquid measurements, and all kinds of kitchen measurements.
But you don’t only need to know about measurements in Spanish for the kitchen.
You also deal with these words at the gas station, in the supermarket, or during a road trip.
Measurements are everywhere around you, so let’s start with the details needed to understand the metric system!
Imperial System vs Metric System
While in the past, at the height of the British Empire rule, the imperial system of measurements was used in large parts of the world, nowadays its usage has dropped dramatically in favor of the metric system.
- the United States
Not even the British, who are responsible for creating it, use it anymore (although they keep driving on the wrong side of the road!).
Why is that?
Well, the metric system is quite logical, especially when compared to a system that based its units of measurement according to the length of the thumb and foot of the king in turn. The metric system is a direct consequence of the Enlightenment period of history and one of the greatest creations of Modernity.
In the metric system every conversion requires only multiplying or dividing by powers of 10, and everything relates ultimately to a concrete piece of reality. For example, a meter was originally devised to be one ten-millionth of the distance from the geographic north pole to the equator (now its definition has changed slightly to make it even more accurate), and the freezing point of water is set at 0ºC while its boiling point is at 100ºC.
Measurement Words in Spanish
Enough with measurement systems history, and veiled criticism of the imperial one, let’s go straight to your vocabulary guide about measurements in Spanish.
Here, I’m referring to the basic words for measurements in Spanish that you need to know before anything else. For example, how do you say weight or length in Spanish? These are the type of basic nouns that you find in the following list with their English translation:
|la longitud, el largo||length|
|la estatura||height (of a person)|
|la anchura, el ancho||width|
|el sistema métrico||metric system|
|el sistema imperial||imperial system|
|el sistema americano||American system|
Units of Measurement in Spanish
Now, let’s take a look at the most important units of measurement in Spanish. These include weight measurements, height measurements, length measurements, volume measurements, and temperature measurements. You’re getting first the metric system units of measurement, followed by the imperial or American system.
|Weight and Volume|
|el grado centígrado||degrees Celsius|
|el grado Fahrenheit||degrees Fahrenheit|
|Other Units of Measurement|
|el metro cuadrado||Square meter|
|el kilómetro cuadrado||Square kilometer|
|el centímetro cúbico||Cubic centimeter|
|el metro cúbico||Cubic meter|
In this section you’re finding helpful adjectives used when talking about measurements in Spanish.
|alto||tall (about a person)|
Finally, a few useful verbs to talk about measurements in Spanish.
|añadir, agregar||to add|
|subir||to go up, to increase|
|bajar||to go down|
Dimensions in Spanish
It’s time for the second part of this post: how to talk about dimensions in Spanish!
Here, I discuss two dimensions, three dimensions, space dimensions, and overall dimensions.
But let’s start with: what do dimensions mean?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, dimension is “a measure in one direction.” Our world is a three-dimensional space where you can find your exact position using three coordinates of width, height, and length. Einstein would also add time, but let’s not get into that for now.
2-D and 3-D
These days we hear about 3-D animation movies (think Pixar films) and 3-D printers, and they sound like science fiction terms. In reality, as stated above, our world is a 3-D space and there’s nothing innovative about it.
However, for a long time all we had was 2-D animation films (think classic Disney films), so when we get a 3-D movie release it seems like quite a new thing. To be sure, the innovation is a 3-D film, not the three dimensions by themselves.
For example, a piece of paper or a white board are 2-D spaces, where the two dimensions are length and height. The Pixar movies add the width dimension, although they’re still screened in a 2-D screen.
When talking about dimensions either in Spanish or in English, you use this type of notation:
This notation is used to express the dimensions of a specific object or space and refer to the two or three dimensions previously mentioned (length, height, width).
When you say that a window’s dimensions are 80×46 centimeters, what you’re actually saying is that that window measures 80 centimeters high by 46 centimeters long.
If you’re talking about the dimensions of your living room you would have to add the third dimension of width. The notation then would be something like 4x5x3 meters. That means that your living room measures 4 meters long by 5 meters high by 3 meters wide.
In Spanish, instead of saying “by” to express the “x” symbol, you have to say por. This way 4x5x3 meters is 4 metros de largo por 5 metros de alto por 3 metros de ancho.
Measurements and Dimensions Quiz
Test your new advanced Spanish measurements and dimensions vocabulary with this free interactive quiz!
Fill in the blank:
1. Mi hermano mide un _____ con ochenta centímetros.
2. Compré 3 _____ de leche
3. A mí me gusta bañarme con agua ______ .
4. La vaca del vecino está muy _____ .
5. Este pasillo es un poco _____ .
6. La ______ entre Madrid y Barcelona es de 505 kilómetros.
7. Agrega dos _______ de azúcar a mi café.
8. Es un día perfecto, con 22 grados _____ de temperatura.
9. ¿Cuál es la _____ de esta esa?
10. El terreno que compré mide 300 metros _____ .
Practice Measurements and Dimensions in Spanish
You’ve got the history, the explanation, and all the vocabulary you need to know about measurements and dimensions in Spanish—now it’s time for you to practice this new knowledge!
Start introducing measurement and dimension terms in your real life conversations in Spanish by practicing first with a native speaker.
Sign up for a free class to practice conversation with one of our certified, native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala. We teach more than 24,000 actively enrolled students every month and have been providing reliable service to Spanish learners for more than 10 years. Give us a try today!
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