Talking about measurements and distances

Note that this is a Europe focused lesson. Your active focus is Latin America.

To talk about measurements in Spanish, i.e. how long/wide something is, we frequently use the following construction:

mide  + [measurement] + de alto/ de largo/ de ancho

For example:

La mesa mide 110 centímetros de largo y 80 centímetros de alto.The table is 110 centimetres long and 80 centimetres high.

Ese mueble mide 2 metros de largo.That piece of furniture is 2 metres long.

La estantería blanca mide medio metro de largo y 20 centímetros de ancho.The white shelf is half a metre long and 20 centimetres wide.

Notice how in Spanish we use the preposition "de", whereas in English there is no preposition.

To ask how big something is, we ask:

¿Cuánto mide?What are its dimensions?

And more specifically:

¿Cuánto mide de largo?How long is it?

¿Cuánto mide de ancho?How wide is it?

¿Cuánto mide de alto?How high is it?

Note that sometimes we use the verb tener instead of medir, for example, we could also say:

La estantería blanca tiene medio metro de largo y 20 centímetros de ancho.The white shelf is half a metre long and 20 centimetres wide.

To talk about thickness we use the words grueso or grosor, for example:

Ese panel tiene 3 centímetros de grueso.That board is 3 centimetre thick.

El trozo de madera mide 10 centímetros de grosor.The piece of wood is 10 centimetres thick.

When we talk about measurements relating to people, we only talk about height, so you can omit "de alto" at the end as it is understood we are talking about height. 

Pedro es bastante alto; mide un metro noventa [de alto]Pedro is quite tall; he is 1.9 metres tall.

Yo soy baja; solo mido un metro sesenta.I am short; I am just 1.6 metres tall.

To ask how tall someone is:

¿Cuánto mides?How tall are you?

To talk and ask about distance, i.e. how near or far something is, we introduce the question with "¿Cómo de cerca/cómo de lejos...?:

Te acompaño. ¿Cómo de lejos está tu casa?I'll walk with you. How far is your house?

-Vamos, la catedral está cerca.  -¿Cómo de cerca está?-Come on, the catedral is near. -How close is it?

Notice how we use the verb "estar" because we are talking about location

Possible answers to these questions are:

Mi casa está a cinco minutos de aquí.My house is 5 minutes away from here.

La catedral está a unos 500 metros.The cathedral is about 500 metres away.

Notice how we use the preposition "a" after estar. We can answer by saying how far in terms of distance (metres, kilometres away) something is or we could answer saying how far in terms of time (minutes, hours away). In both cases, estar + a is always used. 

 

 

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Examples and resources

Te acompaño. ¿Cómo de lejos está tu casa?I'll walk with you. How far is your house?
Yo soy baja; solo mido un metro sesenta.I am short; I am just 1.6 metres tall.
¿Cuánto mide de ancho?How wide is it?
La mesa mide 110 centímetros de largo y 80 centímetros de alto.The table is 110 centimetres long and 80 centimetres high.
¿Cuánto mides?How tall are you?
Pedro es bastante alto; mide un metro noventa [de alto]Pedro is quite tall; he is 1.9 metres tall.
¿Cuánto mide de largo?How long is it?
-Vamos, la catedral está cerca.  -¿Cómo de cerca está?-Come on, the catedral is near. -How close is it?
Ese panel tiene 3 centímetros de grueso.That board is 3 centimetre thick.
¿Cuánto mide de alto?How high is it?
La catedral está a unos 500 metros.The cathedral is about 500 metres away.
El trozo de madera mide 10 centímetros de grosor.The piece of wood is 10 centimetres thick.
¿Cuánto mide?What are its dimensions?
Mi casa está a cinco minutos de aquí.My house is 5 minutes away from here.
La estantería blanca mide medio metro de largo y 20 centímetros de ancho.The white shelf is half a metre long and 20 centimetres wide.
Ese mueble mide 2 metros de largo.That piece of furniture is 2 metres long.
La estantería blanca tiene medio metro de largo y 20 centímetros de ancho.The white shelf is half a metre long and 20 centimetres wide.
Let me take a look at that...