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Measuring Up: Weight and Volume in Spanish

Spanish-speaking countries use the metric system to measure weight and volume (the United States uses the English system). So instead of asking for a pound of atún (tuna), you ask for half a kilo (kilogram). You wouldn’t buy a quart of leche (milk), you’d pick up a litro (liter). The metric system is easier to understand than the measurement system used in the United States because the metric system is based on units of 10. But just in case you need a word for an English unit of measurement, we’ve included those words too.


If you’re not familiar with what a kilo weighs, it’s is a bit more than 2 pounds. One gramo (gram) is a very small amount, roughly equivalent to the weight of the water filling a thimble.


So how much liquid makes up a liter? A litro (liter), like a quart, is 4 cups. If you have 5 mililitros (milliliters), you have about a teaspoon of liquid.

Other physical quantities

Two other specific quantities will come in handy when you're shopping at the market. If you need, say, a dozen eggs, you ask for una docena (a dozen). Half that many is media docena (a half dozen).

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