Todo Sobre Las Medidas: Measurements and Dimensions in Spanish
Whether you’re calculating the area of a room, measuring the distance between two places or trying out a new recipe, being able to understand measurements is essential. Being able to read and comprehend terms related to measurements in Spanish is a great way to get further on the road to fluency. Let’s get started!
First, we’ll take a quick look at the systems of measurement both in the U.S. and the Spanish-speaking world. Next, we will dive into vocabulary and practice activities related to measuring length, width and height as well as calculating dimensions. Then, we’ll explore distance, volume, and weight. Finally, you’ll have a chance to do some practice exercises to test your new knowledge of measurement in Spanish.
Metric Versus American
When it comes to measuring distance, weight, and volume, people in the United States use a system of measurements known as the American or “standard” system. This differs from el sístema métrico—the metric system—which is used by the rest of the world, including Spain and Latin America.
Although American measurements occasionally appear in certain instances (like bulk food being sold by the pound in most markets throughout Latin America), the metric system is universally understood in the Spanish-speaking world. Interestingly, Puerto Rico widely uses the metric system, despite the fact that it is a U.S. territory.
When calculating the dimensions of any object in the Spanish-speaking world, you’ll want to look at the side of your ruler or tape measure that denotes millimeters and centimeters, as opposed to inches and feet. Use the tables below for assistance with your conversions.
The Metric System
|milímetro||millimeter||1/1,000th of a meter or 0.039 inches|
|centímetro||centimeter||1/100th of a meter or 0.39 inches|
|metro||meter||39 inches or 3.2 feet|
|kilómetro||kilometer||1,000 meters or 0.62 miles|
The American System
|pie||foot||0.3 meters or 12 inches|
|yarda||yard||0.91 meters or 3 feet|
|milla||mile||1.6 kilometers or 5,280 feet|
Dimensions Vocabulary in Spanish
In order to calculate the dimensions (las dimensiones) of anything, it’s helpful to learn the related vocabulary words. Here’s a handy list of important words to learn to calculate the dimensions of a certain item or space.
|largo / longitud||length||lar-go / lon-hee-tood|
|ancho / anchura||width||an-cho / an-choo-rah|
|alto / altura||height||al-toe / al-too-rah|
|estatura||height (of a person)||es-tat-ooh-rah|
|cinta métrica||tape measure||seen-tah met-ree-kah|
Spanish Sentences and Questions
Here are some examples of how you could use this vocabulary in everyday life.
Vamos a medir con el metro.
We are going to measure with the tape measure.
¿Cuántos palmos mide?
How many hands does it measure?
¿Cuántos centímetros mide de ancho?
How many centimeters wide is it?
Necesito la cinta métrica para medir la longitud de la ventana antes de comprar la cortina.
I need the tape measure to measure the length of the window before buying the curtain.
Usa la regla para medir el largo y el ancho de la pared y calcular su área.
Use the ruler to measure the length and width of the wall and calculate its area.
2-D and 3-D Notation
When talking about the dimensions in length, width, or height of any object or space, we usually use the word “by” as the verbal substitution for the x between units of measurement.
Example: 2 x 4 / “two by four”
In Spanish, you use the word por instead of “by” as the verbal substitution for x. Therefore, using the above example, you’d say dos por cuatro.
Here’s how to translate the notation for expressing square or cubic measurements when calculating area or volume. Use cuadrado when referring to area and cúbico with regard to volume.
|metros cuadrados||square meters||m²|
|metros cúbicos||cubic meters||m³|
Units of Measurement: Distance
la distancia – distance
el milimetro – millimeter
el centímetro – centimeter
el metro – meter
el kilómetro – kilometer
la pulgada – inch
el palmo – handspan
el pie – foot
la yarda – yard
la milla – mile
Desde el aeropuerto hasta el hotel son unos 45 kilómetros.
It’s about 45 kilometers from the airport to the hotel.
¿Cuántas yardas se extiende una cancha de fútbol americano?
How many yards long is a football field?
Distance Versus Dimension
The difference between distance and dimension is that a dimension is the single aspect of a given thing (as in length, width, height, area or volume) while distance is the amount of space between two (usually geographical) points, typically (though not always) measured along a straight line.
Put your new knowledge to use!
The Vamos a medir (Let’s measure) online activity for kids guides students to measure a table and a rug twice each, once with palmos (handspans) and again with un metro (a tape measure). Record your findings on una tabla (a table). Decide what to measure with first, palmos o metro, then measure the table. When you click to measure, el largo, el ancho or el alto, tool icons will appear on the right side of the screen.
Measuring Volume and Weight in Spanish
Spanish-speakers also use the metric system to calculate el volumen de líquidos (liquid volume) and el peso (weight).
Units of Measurement: Liquid Volume
Use these measurements when talking about the amount of liquid in a container or how heavy a package is.
el volumen – volume
la cucharadita – teaspoon
la cucharada – tablespoon
la taza – cup
la pinta – pint
el cuarto de galón – quart
el galón – gallon
el mililitro – milliliter
el litro – liter
El médico recomienda que tome dos litros de agua todos los días.
The doctor recommends that I drink two liters of water a day.
La receta pide 2 cucharadas de aceite de coco y 2 cucharaditas de canela.
The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
Units of Measurement: Weight
el peso – weight
el miligramo – milligram
el gramo – gram
el kilo – kilogram
la onza – ounce
la libra – pound
la tonelada – ton
Bajo mi nuevo régimen de dieta vegana, perdí ocho libras en un solo mes.
Under my new regimen of a vegan diet, I lost eight pounds in just one month.
El elefante pesa 4 toneladas.
The elephant weighs 4 tons.
Important note: the word tonelada is only appropriate to use when referring to something’s physical weight. The translation for “a ton of information”, “a ton of people” or a ton of anything (referring to a large amount), isn’t una tonelada de información, but rather un montón de información.
Practice Questions and Answer Key
After taking the time to study measurements and dimensions in Spanish, quiz yourself to find out how much information you’ve retained. (See answers at the bottom of this article.)
¿Como se dice…?
- To measure
- Four by four (4 x 4)
- Cubic feet
Translate from Spanish to English
- El hombre más grande del mundo tenía 2 metros 29 de estatura y un peso de 201 kilogramos.
- El país de México abarca una superficie de 1,960,189 kilómetros cuadrados.
- La velocidad de la luz en el vacío es 299,792,458 metros por segundo.
Translate from English to Spanish
- Hotels in this zone should have rooms of at least 12 square meters in area.
- The difference of 4 inches is neither noticeable nor important.
- There are almost 13,000 kilometers between London and Johannesburg.
- El metro
- La milla
- La regla
- Cuatro por cuatro
- Pies cúbicos
- El cuarto de galón
- El mililitro
- La libra
- La grama
Spanish to English Sentences
- The tallest man in the world was 2.29 meters tall and weighed 201 kilograms.
- The country of Mexico covers an area of 1,960,189 square kilometers.
- The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 meters per second.
English to Spanish Sentences
- Los hoteles de esta zona deben tener la habitación de 12 metros cuadrados mínimo.
- La diferencia de 4 pulgadas no se percibe ni importa.
- Hay casi 13,000 kilómetros entre Londres y Johannesburgo.
Go the Distance
Attaining fluency in Spanish takes dedication and concentrated effort. Take advantage of a personalized, one-on-one session with one of our professional teachers, all of whom are native speakers from Guatemala. Sign up for a free class today to further discuss weights and measures in Spanish—along with any other topic that interests you!
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