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Seven Measurements

Here are 7 systems of measurement for things like time, distance and money.


1. Time

1000 milliseconds = 1 second (sec)
60 seconds = 1 minute (min)
60 minutes = 1 hour (hr)
24 hours = 1 day
7 days = 1 week (wk)
28, 30 or 31 days = 1 month (mth)
12 months = 1 year (yr)
365 days = 1 year
BUT every 4th year = 366 days (a leap year)

Also note:
52 weeks = 1 year (approximately)

People often use the following terms:
48 hours (2 days)
72 hours (3 days)


2. Distance

There are two systems for measuring distance in the English-speaking world:

a) metric
10 millimetres (mm) = 1 centimetre (cm)
100 centimetres = 1 metre (m)
1000 metres = 1 kilometre (km)

b) imperial/US
12 inches (in) = 1 foot (ft)
3 feet = 1 yard (yd) (approximately 1 metre)
1760 yards = 1 mile (approximately 1.6 km)


3. Area

Area is the extent of a surface. It is 2-dimensional. Area is often expressed using the word "square" + the distance. For example, if a room is 10 metres long and 5 metres wide, it is 50 square metres (50 sq. m). But we can also use the distance + the figure 2. Then we would write 50m2.

Here are two examples:

My table is 3 metres long x 2 metres wide:
area = 6 sq.m, or
area = 6m2

My town is 3 miles x 4 miles:
area = 12 sq. miles

We often measure the area of land using:
hectare = 10,000 square metres
acre = 4,840 square yards

There is a difference between "square metres" and "metres square". If my room is 10 feet x 10 feet, it is 100 square feet but 10 feet square. We can only say this when the length and the width are the same.

4. Volume

Volume is the amount of space occupied by an object or enclosed in a container. It is 3-dimensional. Volume is often expressed using the word "cubic" + the distance. For example, if a room is 5 metres long, 3 metres wide and 3 metres high, it is 45 cubic metres (45 cu. m). But we can also use the distance + the figure 3. So we write 45m3.

Other measurements of volume are:
- 1000 cubic centimetres (cc) = 1 litre (L or l)
- gallon (approx. 4.6 litres in UK, approx. 3.8 liters in US)

We use litres to talk about fluids like drinks and petrol.
We also use gallons to talk about petrol and other fluids.


5. Speed

Speed is a measurement that combines distance, quantity, volume etc AND time. Common ways of talking about the speed of a car, for example, are:
- 50 miles per hour (50mph)
- 50 kilometres per hour (50kph)

We also use the symbol / when talking about speed:
- 50 people/hour (50 people per hour)
- 1000 l/hr (1000 litres per hour)


6. Weight

There are two systems to measure how heavy something is:

a) metric
1000 grams (g) = 1 kilogram (kg)
1000 kilograms = 1 metric ton (metric tonne)

b) imperial/US
16 ounces (oz) = 1 pound (lb)
14 pounds = 1 stone (British)
100 pounds = 1 hundredweight (cwt)*
20 hundredweights = 1 ton*

*There is a slight difference between British and US hundreweights and tons.


7. Money

Most countries use a basic monetary unit (for example the dollar) divided into 100 fractional units (example cents). They use a combination of paper money (banknotes or notes) and metal money (coins).

Here are some examples from the world's major currencies:

USA: American Dollar (USD or $)
1 dollar = 100 cents

UK: British Pound (GBP or £)
1 pound = 100 pence

European Union: Euro (EUR or €)
1 euro = 100 cents

Japan: Japanese Yen (JPY or ¥)
1 yen = 100 sen (not used today)

Switzerland: Swiss Franc (CHF)
1 franc = 100 centimes

See also this longer list of currencies.

Words like metre and litre are spelled differently in the UK and US. The British write metre, kilometre, litre etc. The Americans write meter, kilometer, liter etc.

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