Common Units of Measurement in Chinese

When compiling this list I came to realise that there is a huge amount of units of measurement, but we had to draw the line somewhere. The following is a set of measurements that you will, for the most part, need to know if you are learning Chinese. Though, in reality you will only actually use a small handful of them on a regular basis, and will probably also find that for the most part the English abbreviation is more commonly used over of the Chinese. For instance, in Taiwan people refer to a quantity of liquid by the abbreviation for centilitre “cc”, not once have I ever heard anyone say the Chinese equivalent. If you know of any that we have missed please mention it in the comments and we’ll add them to the list!

Units of Measurement in Chinese

Units of Length

納米(纳米)

Pinyin: nà mǐ
English: nanometre

毫米(毫米)

Pinyin: háo mǐ
English: millimetre

公分(公分)

Pinyin: gōng fēn
English: centimetre; also know as 厘米(lí mǐ)

公尺(公尺)

Pinyin: gōng chǐ
English: metre, also commonly refered to as 米 (mǐ)(thanks Shane)

公里(公里)

Pinyin: gōng lǐ
English: kilometre

英吋(英寸)

Pinyin: yīng cùn
English: inch

英尺(英尺)

Pinyin: yīng chǐ
English: foot

碼(码)

Pinyin:
English: yard

英哩(英哩)

Pinyin: yīng lǐ
English: mile

Units of Area

公畝(公亩)

Pinyin: gōng mŭ
English: acre

公頃(公顷)

Pinyin: gōng qǐng
English: hectare

坪(坪)

Pinyin: píng
English: a measurement used in Taiwan when selling land or property (according to Google dictionary: “an area measure equal to 3.3057 square meter or 36 square feet”)

Units of Liquid/Volume

立方公分(立方公分)

Pinyin: lì fāng gōng fēn
English: cubic centimetre (立方厘米 lì fāng lí mǐ)

毫升(毫升)

Pinyin: háo shēng
English: millilitre

公升(公升)

Pinyin: gōng shēng
English: litre

公秉(公秉)

Pinyin: gōng bǐng
English: kilolitre

加侖(加侖)

Pinyin: jiā lún
English: gallon

Units of Weight

毫克(毫克)

Pinyin: háo kè
English: milligram

公克(公克)

Pinyin: gōng kè
English: gram

斤(斤)

Pinyin: jīn
English: catty – equal to 500g in China and 600g in Taiwan (台斤)

公斤(公斤)

Pinyin: gōng jīn
English: kilogram

磅(磅)

Pinyin: bàng
English: pound

英石(英石)

Pinyin: yīng shí
English: stone

公噸(公吨)

Pinyin: gōng dùn
English: ton (if anyone knows how to differentiate between a metric tonne and an imperial ton please post below)

Units of Time

微秒(微秒)

Pinyin: wéi miǎo
English: microsecond

毫秒(毫秒)

Pinyin: háo miǎo
English: millisecond

秒(秒)

Pinyin: miǎo
English: second

分鐘(分钟)

Pinyin: fēn zhōng
English: minute

小時(小时)

Pinyin: xiǎo shí
English: hour

天(天)

Pinyin: tiān
English: day

星期(星期)

Pinyin: xīng qí
English: week; also 禮拜(礼拜 lǐ bài)

兩星期(两星期)

Pinyin: liǎng xīng qí
English: fortnight (no special word for this)

月(月)

Pinyin: yuè
English: month

年(年)

Pinyin: nián
English: year

十年(十年)

Pinyin: shí nián
English: decade

世紀(世纪)

Pinyin: shì jì
English: century

千年(千年)

Pinyin: qiān nián
English: millenia

Units of Temperature

攝氏(摄氏)

Pinyin: shè shì
English: Celsius

華氏(华氏)

Pinyin: huá shì
English: Fahrenheit

Units of Electricity

伏特(伏特)

Pinyin: fú tè
English: volt

安培(安培)

Pinyin: ān péi
English: amp

Other Units

一打(一打)

Pinyin: yī dǎ
English: a dozen

分貝(分贝)

Pinyin: fēn bèi
English: decibel

光年(光年)

Pinyin: guāng nián
English: light year

  • Mainland China, Shaanxi Province:
    米 mǐ = meter
    斤 jīn = 500g (1/2 kg), as opposed to your 600g

    • Thanks, Shanne. I did a bit more looking around and it does seem that 600g is the Taiwanese 斤, or 台斤. I’ll add yours to the list!

  • Dave E

    Don’t Taiwanese often say ‘cc’ instead of cubic centimeter or milliliter? (I remember asking my Chinese teacher in Taipei how to say cubic centimeter and she had no idea.)

    • Yep, “cc” is always used instead of the Chinese, and when compiling this list the person I had verify was a bit unsure on that one.
      Everytime I hear cc I think of a car or a doctor, as in Britain we’d always use ml for liquid and never cc.

  • Dave E

    Wow I completely forgot to read the top part of the article. Go me.

    • haha, it’s okay, I hadn’t slept for for abour 30 hours when I wrote that and it rambles a bit so probably best you didn’t 😉

  • pan

    I think 厘米 is centimetre, not milimetre

    • right you are 😉 moved it to the correct place!