Talking about measurements and distances

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 ancho?How wide is it?

¿Cuánto mide de alto?How high is it?

¿Cuánto mide de largo?How long 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 "¿Qué tan cerca/Qué tan lejos...?:

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

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

You can also use Cuán cerca/Cuán lejos for How near/How far, although this is more formal. For example:

¿Cuán cerca está la universidad?How near is the university?

¿Cuán lejos está la iglesia?How far is the church?

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

Possible answers to these questions are:

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

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

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

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