In this blog post, we are going to learn how to talk about the size of an object and all the different measurements of an object.

Let’s dive in!

When we are describing the size of an object, we use measurements. There are two common **measurement systems**: the Metric System and the Imperial System.

In the United States, for example, they use the imperial system, and in the UK, they use both. However, most countries in the world use the Metric System.

The table below shows some of the differences between the two systems.

### The Metric System

The most common units to describe objects using the **Metric System** are the **meter**, which we can abbreviate with an ‘**m**‘; the **centimeter**, which we abbreviate with ‘**cm**‘; and the **millimeter**, which we abbreviate using ‘**mm**‘.

**1 m = 100 cm = 1000 mm**

Inside 1 meter, there are 100 centimeters, and there are 1,000 millimeters.

The units ‘meter’, ‘centimeter’, and ‘millimeter’ are just three examples because there are other larger units and smaller units in the Metric System.

### The Imperial System

In the** Imperial System**, we use feet and inches for small measurements. We use ‘**ft**‘ to abbreviate the word **feet**, and the word **inches** can be abbreviated with ‘**in**‘. If you are not familiar with these measurement units, it can be confusing. To simplify this for you, we can say that an inch is a smaller unit, and a foot is a larger unit.

**1 ft = 12 in**

There are 12 inches in 1 foot. Feet and inches are just two examples because there are other larger units and smaller units in the Imperial System too. Since larger units are not commonly used to describe small objects, we are not going to discuss them in this article.

### The Metric System Versus the Imperial System

For reference, let’s compare the two measurement systems. Let’s convert 1 meter into feet:

**1 m ≈ 3.28 ft**

1 meter is approximately equal to 3.28 feet.

We have just seen the basics of these two measurement systems. Now let’s move to part 3.

**Measurements** can be confusing, but the pictures on this page might help you understand what these letters actually refer to when we are talking about objects.

### Length

**Length** tells us **how long** an object is. The word ‘**long**‘ can also be used to talk about this specific measurement.

### Width

**Width** tells us **how wide** the object is. So, we can also use the word ‘**wide**‘ to talk about this other measurement here.

### Height

**Height** tells us how high or **how tall** the object is. So the words ‘**high**‘ and ‘**tall**‘ can also be used to describe the object.

The words on the left are **nouns**, but the words on the right are **adjectives**.

When we are building sentences, nouns and adjectives can’t be used in the same way. That’s why this table is important.

These words are commonly used to talk about the dimension of small objects, but we will see some more words throughout this article.

This cardboard box is the object that we are going to describe. We have three measurements: 50 cm x 38 cm x 40 cm.

When you see the measurements like this, you can say:

### KEY PHRASES

- The box is 50 by 38 by 40 centimeters.

- 50 cm x 38 cm x 40 cm

So, instead of ‘x’ /ɛks/ or ‘times’ we say ‘by’ and we don’t need to repeat the word centimeters because the measurement unit is always the same.

### But what do these numbers actually refer to?

The standard order for listing the dimensions of an object is: **length** x **width** x **height**.

You may also come across dimensions listed in a different order and that is why understanding dimensions is so confusing.

Since these measurements are indicated in the standard order, these numbers show you that the box is 50 cm long, 38 cm wide and 40 cm tall.

So we can also say:

### KEY PHRASES

- The box is 50 by 38 by 40 centimeters.
- The box is 50 cm in length, 38 cm in width and 40 cm in height.
- The box is 50 cm long, 38 cm wide and 40 cm tall.

Let’s write some additional sentences.

## Nouns

### Length

- What’s the length of the box?
- The box is 50 cm in length.

### Width

- What’s the width of the box?
- The box is 38 cm in width.

### Height

- What’s the height of the box?
- The box is 40 cm in height.

## Adjectives

### Long

- How long is the box?
- The box is 50 cm long.

### Width

- How wide is the box?
- The box is 38 cm wide.

### Tall (high)

- How tall is the box?
- The box is 40 cm tall.

Although the picture only shows data to describe the length, the width and the height of the shipping box, there are other measurements which are commonly used to describe shipping boxes, such as **cardboard thickness** and **weight.**

Let’s see some sentences that you can use to talk about these specifications.

For reference, here is the information we need:

**Cardboard thickness:** 4 mm

**Weight:** 200 g

Just like with the previous words, you can use nouns or adjectives to specify the weight of a box and the thickness of the cardboard used to make a box.

## Nouns

### Thickness

- What’s the thickness of the cardboard?
- The cardboard is 4 mm in thickness.

### Weight

- What’s the weight of the box?
- The box is 200 g in weight.

## Adjectives

### Thick

- How thick is the cardboard?
- The cardboard is 4 mm thick.

### Heavy

- How heavy is the box?
- The box is 200 g heavy.

When talking about weight, instead of saying ‘*The box is 200 g in weight.*‘ or ‘*The box is 200 g heavy.*‘, you can also say:

- The box weighs 200 g.

Let me just remind you that the word ‘**weighs**‘ is not a noun nor an adjective. It is actually a form of the verb ‘**weigh**‘. Notice that, unlike the adjective (‘weight’), the verb weigh has no ‘**t**‘.

Finally, let’s see some examples to help you understand the concept of **depth** when we are discussing measurements.

**Depth** can be used to measure a type of **vertical distance** usually for **underground measurements**.

One of the most common everyday examples is the depth of a swimming pool or any body of water, such as a river, a lake or a sea.

The depth of a swimming pool is measured **from the surface **of the water** to the bottom** of the swimming pool.

The swimming pool in the picture above has two different depths because it has a deep end and a shallow end.

Let’s see how we could describe it.

## Nouns

### Depth

- What’s the depth of the swimming pool?
- The swimming pool is 1.50 m in depth in the deep end and it is 0.50 m in depth in the shallow end.

## Adjectives

### Deep

- How deep is the swimming pool?
- The swimming pool is 1.50 m deep in the deep end and it is just 0.50 m deep in the shallow end.

**Depth** can also be used to measure **three-dimensional shapes** such as this piece of **furniture**.

To measure furniture, we don’t use the same measurements that we used for the box.

When we are measuring furniture, the definition of depth can sometimes be unclear because it can be confused with other measurements such as width and height.

The bookcase above is 80 by 30 by 106 cm. 80 cm is the width of the bookcase; the depth of the bookcase is 30 cm; and it measures 106 in height. So, when we are talking about furniture, the **depth shows how far back** the piece of furniture goes. It’s a **front-to back measurement**.

Let’s imagine we have a box with similar dimensions, just like the one you see in the picture. This box is also 80 by 30 by 106 cm. However, 80 cm is the length of the box and 30 cm is the width of the box. Just like the bookcase, it also measures 106 in height.

Dimensions and measurements can be extremely confusing, so I hope this blog post helped you to distinguish between length, width, height and depth a little better.

### Pronunciation practice

In part 5, you can practice your English pronunciation.

We have gathered a playlist with all the **difficult words** we have used to talk about the dimensions of an object.

You just have to click on the words you find difficult to pronounce, **listen** to the correct pronunciation and** repeat** as many times as you need until you get it right.