Measurements in Chinese ⚖️ Know Your 厘米 From Your 公里

Measurements in Chinese – A Quick, Simple Guide

You may well know that China has it’s own version for a lot of things. It’s own YouTube (YouKu), Spotify, (QQ Music), Twitter (WeiBo) and so forth. So it should come as no surprise that the Measurements in Chinese have their own little quirks in Mandarin also!

Measurements in Chinese

Don’t worry though, all the familiar names such as kilometres and kilograms are used so it’s not a massive headache at all!

Today we are going to run you through some key vocabulary for measurements in China and introduce you to the systems used in China.

It’s not as daunting as it might sound. We’ll map everything out clearly for you to make things super easy!

Let’s learn our first word, and the most revelant to this topic, the word for measurement of course!

Measurement in Chinese is 测量 cè liáng

测 means to gauge or survey whilst 量 on it’s own means to measure.

Both characters are quite common in Chinese so you’ll see them in other regularly used words also.

Before getting stuck into the vocab there are some frequently asked questions that often get asked by our students so we’ll answer those first before diving into the good stuff.

Measurements in Chinese – Common Questions

Measurements in Chinese – Weight

Measurements in Chinese – Height & Length

Measurements in Chinese – Volume & Capacity

Measurements in ChineseOther Useful Words

BONUSFREE Quiz

Measurements in Chinese – Common Questions

Does China use the Metric system?

China does indeed use the Metric system. On road signs you will see distances shown in kilometres and not miles.

When did China adopt the Metric System?

China jumped aboard the Metric system back in February 16th 1929.

What weight does China use?

China uses kilograms, BUT, rather than list something as 10 kilograms, in China it’s actually spoken as 20 jin’s ().

A jīn is 500 grams. So when asking for a 2 kilogram bag of apples you don’t ask for 2 kilograms, but 4 jīn’s!

If you see the jīn character in markets, it’s referring to 500g.

FOR EXAMPLE : 三斤 = 100人民币 would be 3 jin’s (1.5 kilograms) is 100 Kuai.

OK now let’s get stuck into the vocabulary and some more detail:

Measurements in Chinese – Weight

The word for weight in Chinese is 重量 zhòng liàng

A good way I used to remember this word was that both characters are quite heavy with the number of strokes they use.

So as stated above in the common questions China does use the metric system which means kilograms are all the rage, but you should familiarise yourself with the 斤 (jīn) system.

Thankfully it’s easy, we just double the number of kilograms:

Measurements in Chinese - Grams
  • 5 kilograms = 10 斤 (jīn)
  • 25 kilograms = 50 斤 (jīn)
  • 45 kilograms = 90 斤 (jīn)

…and so forth, not rocket science!

You’ll see the 斤 (jīn) in markets a lot, even some supermarkets.

Here are some of those familiar measurements in Chinese for you:

  • gram 克 kè
  • milligram 毫克 háo kè
  • kilogram 公斤 gōng jīn
  • ton 吨 dūn
  • pound 镑 bàng
  • ounce 盎司 àng sī

Below is a table showing the conversions from metric to Chinese and to the traditional Imperial system of pounds and ounces.

Metric SystemChinese SystemImperial System
1 kilogram2 斤 (jīn)2.205 pounds (lb)
2 kilograms4 斤 (jīn)4.41 pounds (lb)
0.5 kilograms1 斤 (jīn)1.1 pounds (lb)
0.454 kilograms0.907 斤 (jīn)1 pound (lb)
1 gram0.02 两 (liǎng)0.35 ounces (oz)
50 gram1 两 (liǎng)1.76 ounces (oz)
28.35 gram0.567 两 (liǎng)1 ounce (oz)

PSST – like your Maths and Numbers? Check out our complete guide to all the Mathematical terms in Chinese like decimals and fractions.

Measurements in Chinese – Height & Length

When measuring your height in Chinese, centimetres and metres are used instead of feet and inches.

DID YOU KNOW – Only 3 countries in the world currently use the Imperial system instead of the Metric system officially. Do you know who they are? Find out at the end of the article 🤔

Our next buzzword to learn is Height.

The word for Height in Chinese is 高度 gāo dù

Onto some other useful words:

  • length 长, 长度 cháng, cháng dù
  • width 宽度 kuān dù
  • metre 米 mǐ
  • millimetre 毫米 háo mǐ
  • centimetre 厘米 lí mǐ
  • kilometre 公里 gōng lǐ
  • mile 英里 yīng lǐ
  • inch 英寸 yīng cùn
  • foot 英尺 yīng chǐ
  • yard 码 mǎ

As with kilograms China uses 里 like it does 斤. HOWEVER, you’ll rarely come across this day to day.

For example road signs would show 60 kilometres and not 120 里 so there’s no real need to worry about these.

Metric SystemChinese SystemImperial System
1 kilometre2 里 (lǐ)0.62 miles
2 kilometres4 里 (lǐ)1.24 miles
0.5 kilometres1 里 (lǐ)0.31 miles
1.609 kilometres3.218 里 (lǐ)1 mile
1 metre3 尺 (chǐ)3.281 feet
0.33 metres1 尺 (chǐ)1.09 feet
0.305 metres0.9144 尺 (chǐ)1 foot

Measurements in Chinese – Volume, Capacity & Area

No surprises here. 1 升 (shēng) simply = 1 litre. A collective sign of relief from all!

Here’s the three buzzwords to learn:

  • volume/capacity 容量 róng liàng
  • area 面积 miàn jī

And for the rest…

  • depth 深度 shēn dù
  • litre 升 shēng
  • gallon 加仑 jiā lún
  • square metre 平方米 píng fāng mǐ
  • hectare 公顷 gōng qǐng

To say a British Gallon you’d say 英制论坛 (literally British System Gallon)

QUICK TIP – You’ll notice 加仑 sounds similar to Gallon when spoken – this is an example of one of many loanwords in Chinese.

Our comparison chart below first compares the UK gallon and then the US gallon which measure differently.

Capacity Comparison

Metric SystemChinese SystemImperial System
1 litres1 升 (shēng)0.22 UK gallons
2 litres2 升 (shēng)0.44 UK gallons
4.546 litres4.546 升 (shēng)1 UK gallon
1 litres1 升 (shēng)0.264 US gallons
2 litres2 升 (shēng)0.528 US gallons
3.785 litres3.785 升 (shēng)1 US gallon

Area Comparison

Metric SystemChinese SystemImperial System
1 kilometre ²15 顷 (qǐng)0.386 square miles
0.067 kilometres ²1 顷 (qǐng)0.0257 square miles
2.59 kilometres²38.85 顷 (qǐng)1 square mile
1 hectare15 亩 (mǔ)2.47 acres
0.067 hectares1 亩 (mǔ)0.165 acres
0.405 hectares6.07 亩 (mǔ)1 acre

Measurements in Chinese – Other Useful Words

If you want to level up further (come on, who doesn’t), these words will be a really useful addition to your catalogue:

  • degree 度 dù
  • volt 伏, 伏特 fú, fú tè
  • ampere 安培 ān péi
  • horsepower 马力 mǎ lì
  • quantity 数量 shù liàng
  • a little bit of … 一点 yī diǎn
  • half 一半 yī bàn
  • dozen 一打 yī dá
  • piece (item) 个 gè
  • size 大小 dà xiǎo
  • scale (on a map) 比例 bǐ lì
  • minimal (adj) 最低的 zuì dī de
  • the smallest (adj) 最小的 zuì xiǎo de
  • medium (adj) 中等的 zhōng děng de
  • maximum (adj) 最多的 zuì duō de
  • the largest (adj) 最大的 zuì dà de

If you want to find out more about buying clothes in China you are in luck.

We’ve written a great guide about clothes in Chinese and the different types you can buy, plus also another one about going shopping in Chinese which covers the sizes, discounts and other basics.

Don’t say we haven’t got your backs covered!

Likewise measure words in Chinese are an essential part of learning Chinese. This is nothing to do with measurements, but more a grammatical part of the language.

There are hundreds of Chinese Measure words, but don’t worry, you only need to know a certain amount. In fact many people simply use just the one!

If you want to find out more about what we’re talking about here check out our guide to measure words in Chinese.

Ready for more essential content? No one does it better than us! Get stuck into these:

AND FINALLY…

Quickly coming back to our Teaser from earlier – The only THREE countries who continue to officially use the Imperial system are: The United StatesMyanmar and Liberia

If you got that, big pat on the back!

Measurements in Chinese – Quiz Time

Ready to test yourself? We’ve got a super quick quiz which allows you to see how well you really understand your Measurements in Chinese!

It takes a matter of minutes and your results are immediate…!

Welcome to the Measurements Quiz! Enter your First name and email to begin. Don't worry you can unsubscribe at any time!

First Name
Email
ounce 

加仑 (jiā lún)

克 (kè)

厘米 (lí mǐ)

英里 (yīng lǐ)

英尺 (yīng chǐ)

milligram 

width 

米 (mǐ)

公顷 (gōng qǐng)

kilometre 

ton

area 

weight

长 (cháng)

square metre 

深度 (shēn dù)

镑 (bàng)

litre 

yard 


Measurements in Chinese – FAQ’s

Does China use the Metric or Imperial system?

China uses the Metric system. On road signs you will see distances shown in kilometres and not miles.

How do you say Kilogram in Chinese?

Kilogram in Chinese is 公斤 gōng jīn

How do you say Litre in Chinese?

Litre in Chinese is 升 shēng

How do you say Metre in Chinese?

Metre in Chinese is 米 mǐ

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  • LTL Avatar Alexander Krasnov
    Alexander Krasnov , Student Advisor

    Welcome to LTL Mandarin School!

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