The difference between “ton” and “tonne”

Both “ton” and “tonne” are units of weight, but a “ton” is a British and American measure, while a “tonne” is a metric measure.

A “tonne” is equal to 1,000 kg. In the US it may be referred to as a “metric ton”.

You should be careful when using the word “ton”, as there are two different types – British and American.

The British ton (also used in other countries that have the Imperial system of weights and measures) is equal to 2,240 pounds or 1,016.047 kg. It is sometimes referred to as the “long ton”, “weight ton” or “gross ton”.

The North American ton (only used in the United States and Canada) is equal to 2,000 pounds or 907.1847 kg. It is sometimes referred to as the “short ton” or “net ton”.

The difference dates from the 19th century when the British adapted their existing system (the avoirdupois system) to create the more easily convertible Imperial system. The Americans continued to use the old avoirdupois units. This also explains why there are differences between other British and American measures, most notably pints and gallons – and why the Brits measure their body weight in stone while the Americans use pounds.
The different measures have specific applications in particular fields of industry, commerce or shipping.

If you need any further information, Wikipedia is a good source.

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18 Responses to The difference between “ton” and “tonne”

  1. amelia says:

    good short snappy info!!!

  2. A. Hadley says:

    Perfect ,concise, andi informative, settled an argument peacefully. Paul

  3. Pepy says:

    In marine terms: ton is unit of volume (measures the space occupied by object) while tonne is a unit used for mass (such as our own weight is measured in kg).

  4. john rush says:

    My weight is measured in stones ,pounds and ounces ,, to hell with the continental kg.or their shoe sizes they never get them right anyway either too big or too small , and that is with my tongue oot

  5. anorl richie says:

    and all my doubts have been cleared

  6. jamesfboylan says:

    The U;S. of A. also has a Long Ton of 2,240 pounds, often used in business transactions for minerals and base metals.

  7. R K Dewangan says:

    Nice Information

  8. Kermit says:

    Why can’t we all be good Frogs and use the SI system. Thus a ton is a tonne which are both 1.000kgs all around the world.

  9. B. S. Gopala Krishna., says:

    Beautifully explained, so that everyone who goes through this will be cleared from all doubts regarding the spelling differences in ton and tonne.

  10. b says:

    I, also, like to know why 2 tonnes and why not 2 tonne, like 2 kg, meter …..instead of 2 kgs, meters…

    • We say 2 tonnes, just as we say 2 kilograms, 2 metres etc. But if we use the abbreviation, we say 2 kg, 2 m, and for 2 tonnes the abbreviation is 2 t.

    • Mike says:

      The SI has symbols not abbreviations, there is no plural, hence kg, t, km etc. You can spell it out in your language or use the universal symbol, even in Chinese or Arabic.

  11. Jerri says:

    Infuriating to a pedant like me that on tv subtitles when someone says “That hit me like a ton of bricks” the subtitle now spells it ‘tonne’. It’s an expression that pre-dates metric measurement and it’s ridiculous to ‘update’ it.

  12. Great Article! Thanks for sharing such a good article. When it comes to mastering weight measurements, one of the most difficult concepts to get your head around is the difference between ‘ton’ and ‘tonne’. The way you explain the concept is understandable and clear.

  13. Pingback: The Carbon-debt problem and how to achieve sustainability - P27

  14. Pingback: Ton vs Tonne | Miscellany

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