Units of Measurement in English

Units of measurement, like length, weight, time, volume, and area, play a crucial role in daily activities. They help you bake cakes, pump fuel into your car, and keep track of time.

This reference aims to teach vocabulary related to these measurement units, making it easier for English learners to communicate and understand them. By learning these terms, you will be better equipped in both everyday situations and academic settings.

What Are Measurement Units?

Units of Measurement
Units of Measurement – Created by 7ESL

Measurement units are definite units that you can use to count the amount of something with. They are standard units that are widely recognized with official bodies as being “official” units of measurement. This is so that measurements are standardized and can be used wide-spread. For example – someone can buy x amount of something and they know that they are going to get the exact amount that they have asked for.

There are two different standardized systems of measurement – there is the metric unit system and there is the US standard unit which is also known as the English or customary unit of measurement. These two systems use completely different units of measurement.

The US standard unit was standardized in 1832 and is based on the old English system of measurement that had evolved over many hundreds of years. Its basis is yards, pounds, and gallons.

The Metric system was first formed in France around 1795 and is a system that is based on multiples of ten and uses the metre, gram, and litre as its base units and is a very easy to understand the system. No matter what it is measuring, the metric system has a base unit of one and then units that are bigger and smaller than it. For example :

  • Base = 1
  • Deci = base divided by 10
  • Centi = base / 100
  • Milli = base / 1000
  • Deca = base x 10
  • Hecto = base x 100
  • Kilo = base x 1000

Therefore, one metre is equivalent to one hundred centimetres and one thousand millimetres, and one centimetre is equivalent to ten millimetres.

Units of Measurement


Length is the distance of something from one end to the other, no matter how long or short it is. As already mentioned above, length is pretty straightforward with the metric system and our usual units of measuring length with it are millimetres, centimetres, metres, and then kilometres (1000 metres). Millimetres are suitable for measuring very small units, while kilometres are suited to long distances.

On the other hand, we have the US standard system for measuring, and that begins with inches for the smallest units and one inch is approximately 2.5 centimetres. This system then uses feet (12 inches), yards (3 feet), and miles (1760 yards).


Weight is measured to enable us to tell how much of something there is and it is essential for any number of things from baking and cooking, to telling how much a person weighs. The metric system measures weight based on its base unit of a kilogram and again uses multiples of ten as shown above. It begins with milligrams to measure very small items such as medicines, then grams, and kilograms.

The US standard system use ounces, pounds, and tonnes to measure weight. One pound is equivalent to sixteen ounces, and 2000 pounds is equivalent to one ton. Although the US system does not use it, the old English Imperial system also uses stones to measure weight, and there are fourteen pounds in one stone.

Capacity (Volume)

Capacity, also known as volume, is how much quantity of a substance a container can hold. The metric system measures volume in a way that is very similar to how it measures length and weight – with a base unit of one litre – but this time it only uses one other measure and that is the millilitre, which is smaller than the base unit.

US units of measurement for volume are fluid ounces, cups (8 fluid ounces), pints (2 cups), quarts (2 pints), and gallons (4 quarts). One quart is approximately 0.95 litres in metric measurement.


The measurement of time is as old as, well, time itself, and it is the one form of measurement that both the metric and the US standard systems both agree on. Both systems use the same measurement of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years for time. The earliest forms of measuring time were the sundials that the ancient Egyptians used, but thankfully, it is now much more advanced.