pronouncing height in metric English

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fenixpollo

moderator
American English
A question from a metrically-challenged American:

I am 1.7 meters tall, according to my calculations using an on-line measurement converter. How do I say that in English? "One-point-seven meters"? "One meter, seventy centimeters"? Something else?

WR sources: I found a thread about how to write height in meters (here), and two threads on how Spanish-speakers might express height in English measure (one, two).

Thanks.
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    For heights, I would say that you are a hundred and seventy centimetres tall.
    I know that for sure because I just told WMPG's mum that WMPG is now a hundred and twenty centimetres tall:)

    You could say one point seven metres, but it sounds a little strange - to me.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    We have been using the metric system for a little over a generation and when referring to human height the scale is centimetres.

    To say that a person is 1.7 metres tall indicates that the person could be as short as 1.65 metres and as tall as 1.75 metres.

    To say that a person is 170 centimetres tall indicates taht the person may be as short as 169.5 centimetres or as tall as 170.5 centimetres.

    I suspect that perhaps the convention is to use 1.?? centimetres as only 10% of the population are of a height to use 1.? metres.


    .,,
    Congratulations on your little one who is not quite so little.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Height considerations aside, I'd say that if you write 1.7m about anything, you should say "one point seven meters." If you want to describe it the other way, it should be written "170cm tall." Not that there's a firmly-set convention for metrical personal height in AE (as you point out).
    .
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Does this apply to the metric system too? (I know in the U.S. you use the imperial system, but would it sound okay or odd?)

    1. He is two meter ten.
    2. He is two meters ten.

    If need be, I'll start a new thread, but I just wondered about this while reading this discussion.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    No, in the US we do not use the "Imperial system." The U.S. has its own system of weights and measures in which some units are the same as those that once were used in the British Empire and Commonwealth, but not all of them.

    We don't have much reason to say 1 m, 10 cm in the U.S. But when I see personal heights on web sites, they're always in centimeters or meters: 163 cm or 1.63 m, but not 1 m, 63 cm. Metric system users can confirm or repudiate, but I don't think both units are said in giving measurements: I don't think anyone would say or write 1 l, 100 ml instead of 1.1 l or 23 kilos, 400 grammes instead of 23.4 kilos.

    So the issue of whether to use the singular or the plural doesn't come up.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think the problem, if you're giving a metric height, is that very few people are over 2 metres tall!

    In BE, height is usually given in imperial measurements, but sometimes you hear it in metric. I agree with Fabulist, that the written form is usually 1.7m or 170cm. However, it not be unusual to say 'I'm one metre seventy' or 'one seventy' (ie 170 cm - children's clothes sizes are often given in this style). I think if anyone was 2.1m, I might say 'two metres ten'.

    <<Moderator note: some posts have been moved to this thread from another thread: AmE: five foot four or five feet four? as this seems to be a better home for them!>>
     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Me too, picka. (I'm actually "one metre sixty-two":).)

    As Nat suggests, I'd use the plural "metres" for anyone over two metres tall.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    <Added to this thread. Nat>
    1.07 m

    BrE: one point oh seven metres

    Hello,
    These are self-made. Can my options also work?

    one metre and seven
    one metre point seven
    one metre and seven centimetres
    one metre and seven centimetres
    one seven metres
    one seven sentimetres

    Thank you.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "One metre and seven centimetres" is fine. the others are not.
    "One metre seven" would be fine when discussing a child's height, and possibly lengths in a domestic setting, such as the width of a table, but it can only be used where there is no doubt that centimetres are the subsidiary unit. It would not, for example, be used in an engineering context, where centimetres aren't used.
    "A hundred and seven centimetres" is also possible.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "One metre and seven centimetres"
    Can I also use "point" instead of "and"?
    No. It isn't "point seven centimetres".

    It is fine using two different (sometimes more than two) units that belong to the same scale. A marathon, for example, might be run in "two hours, twenty three minutes and seventeen seconds".

    "Point" can only be used with the last in a series of units, and it is possible to say that the marathon was run in "two hours, twenty three minutes and seventeen point four seconds", for example. It would also be correct (although very unusual) to say that it was run in "two hours and twenty three point two nine minutes", which is exactly the same time as 2h 23m 17.4s.

    You cannot say, for example, "two point three eight hours and seventeen seconds", but "two point three eight hours" on its own would be fine.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    One metre point seven centimetres

    Would you please write this in digits? I know it's not right but I want to see what it looks like.

    Thank you.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You are right, we wouldn't say "One metre point seven centimetres".

    Do you mean 'one metre and seven centimetres' - 1.07 metres, or 'one metre point and point seven of a centimetre' - 1.007 metres?
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    No no no

    I just want to know how this weird sentence is written in digits: One metre point seven centimetres
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Sb, you've been told several times that we don't say that. It follows that we don't write it.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    We cannot use “point” here because we have two different units (metre) and (centimetre).

    Am I right?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I just want to know how this weird sentence is written in digits: One metre point seven centimetres
    Strictly speaking, this is 1.007 m. However, as Loob has said, no one would say it like that. Because it is an usual thing to say, the speaker would be certain to include something between "metre" and "point", such as "and" or "zero" (or both) to make the meaning clear, if they insisted on using centimetres, or else they would use millimetres.
     
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