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Metric Measurements

British Units Usually Not Used in Spanish-Speaking Areas

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Speedometer

In most Spanish-speaking areas, vehicle speed is measured in kilometers per hour.

Photo by Nathan; licensed via Creative Commons.

You may speak Spanish well, but if you're talking to typical Spaniards or Latin Americans using inches, cups, miles and gallons, chances are they won't understand you well even if they know words such as pulgadas and millas.

With a few exceptions — among them Spanish speakers inside the United States — Spanish speakers throughout the world use the metric system of measurements in everyday life. Although local or indigenous measurements are in use in some places, and American/British measurements are occasionally used for some specific instances (gasoline is sold by the gallon in some parts of Latin America, for example), the metric system is universally understood in the Spanish-speaking world.

Here are the most common British measurements and their metric equivalents in Spanish and English:

Length (Longitud)

  • 1 centimeter (centímetro) = 0.3937 inches (pulgadas)
  • 1 inch (pulgada) = 2.54 centimeters (centímetros)
  • 1 foot (pie) = 30.48 centimeters (centímetros)
  • 1 foot (pie) = 0.3048 meters (metros)
  • 1 yard (yarda) = 0.9144 meters (metros)
  • 1 meter (metro) = 1.093613 yards (yardas)
  • 1 kilometer (kilómetro) = 0.621 miles (millas)
  • 1 mile (milla) = 1.609344 kilometers (kilómetros)

Weight (Peso)

  • 1 gram (gramo) = 0.353 ounces (onzas)
  • 1 ounce (onza) = 28.35 grams (gramos)
  • 1 pound (libra) = 453.6 grams (gramos)
  • 1 pound (libra) = 0.4563 kilograms (kilogramos)
  • 1 kilogram (kilogramo) = 2.2046 pounds (libras)
  • 1 American ton (tonelada americana) = 0.907 metric tons (toneladas métricas)
  • 1 metric ton (tonelada métrica) = 1.1 metric tons (toneladas métricas)

Volume/capacity (volumen/capacidad)

  • 1 milliliter (mililitro) = 0.034 fluid ounces (onzas fluidas)
  • 1 milliliter (mililitro) = 0.2 teaspoons (cucharaditas)
  • 1 fluid ounce (onza fluida) = 29.6 milliliters (mililitros)
  • 1 teaspoon (cucharadita) = 5 milliliters (mililitros)
  • 1 cup (taza) = 0.24 liters (litros)
  • 1 quart (cuarto) = 0.95 liters (litros)
  • 1 liter (litro) = 4.227 cups (tazas)
  • 1 liter (litro) = 1.057 quarts (cuartos)
  • 1 liter (litro) = 0.264 U.S. gallons (galones americanos)
  • 1 U.S. gallon (galón americano) = 3.785 liters (litros)

Area (superficie)

  • 1 square centimeter (centímetro cuadrado) = 0.155 square inches (pulgadas cuadradas)
  • 1 square inch (pulgada cuadrada) = 6.4516 square centimeters (centímetros cuadrados)
  • 1 square foot (pie cuadrado) = 929 square centimeters (centímetros cuadrados)
  • 1 acre (acre) = 0.405 hectares (hectáreas)
  • 1 hectare (hectárea) = 2.471 acres (acres)
  • 1 square kilometer (kilómetro cuadrado) = 0.386 square miles (millas cuadradas)
  • 1 square mile (milla cuadrada) = 2.59 square kilometers (kilómetros cuadrados)

Of course, mathematical accuracy isn't always necessary. For example, if you remember that a kilogram is a bit more than 2 pounds and a liter is a bit more than a quart, that's close enough for many purposes. And if you're driving, remember that a speed-limit sign that says 100 kilómetros por hora means you shouldn't be driving more than 62 miles per hour.

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