Ton vs. tonne

In American English, a ton is a unit of measurement equaling 2,000 pounds. In non-U.S. measurements, a ton equals 2,240 pounds. A tonne, also known as a metric ton, is a unit of mass equaling 1,000 kilograms.

American English speakers generally have no use for tonne, so the spelling rarely appears in U.S. publications. Elsewhere, fastidious publications use the appropriate spellings for the units of measurement. And ton (often pluralized) is used informally as a noun meaning a large extent, amount, or number.


British, Canadian, and Australian publications generally reserve tonne for very narrow uses (i.e., in reference to the metric ton)—for example:


Almost 30 firefighters tackled a blaze involving 2,000 tonnes of rubbish at a recycling centre in Southampton. [BBC News]

His own crop was reduced from 4000 tonnes to 3000 tonnes because of the floods. [Herald Sun]

B.C.’s carbon tax is a weensy $20 a tonne, or about four-and-a-half cents per litre at the gas pump. [Vancouver Sun]

All use ton (or tons) in contexts unrelated to measurement—for example:

Many people are interviewed in the series, but a dominant voice is that of Robbie Robertson, who has tons of stories. [Globe and Mail]

A Denver medical marijuana dispensary says it is literally trading a ton of joints for a ton of food. [Denver Post]

The feelings of love he’d expected to hit him like a ton of bricks when little Phoebe arrived simply didn’t come. [Mirror]

Better yet, Klugt says, her iPhone has tons of cool apps and the digital jukebox, iTunes. [Sydney Morning Herald]


Check Your Text


  1. I use ton to mean 2,000 pounds, tonne to mean 2240 pounds

    • Velvet Android says:

      Now that’s just confusing the issue!

    • David Lister says:

      Los is an idiot!

      • arizona says:

        you really ARE a pathetic wanker. a tonne is worth 2204.6 lbs. the poor sod isn’t an idiot, they just typed too fast, transposed the 0 and the 4 and had a lapse of attention to catch the error. are you trying to say that you’re so fuc-ing perfect that YOU’VE never posted a spelling error or other typo like this?! FU-K OFF! you must really be an insecure cu-t with serious self esteem issues to have the need to cut others down like you have all over this page.

        • Well that ESCALATED quickly

          • actually it didn’t. this was the culmination of a series of events. this little arrogant and egotistical cu-t made it a habit of commenting to everyone he could on this page in like manner, me included. although he expounded into greater depths of douchebaggery in my case. otherwise i’d have have ignored him and moved on.

          • Plutos McFurball says:

            You’re really REALLY taking internet business too seriously. I hope in the last eight months you’ve had a break from the keys, maybe laid on a few beaches or hiked through some national parks, and are now able to put things in perspective.

    • for sure!

  2. YapYap Seng says:

    I use Ton is singular and Tonnes is plural. both equal 1000kg.

    • Lucien Schilling says:

      It is confusing because the US think that they can ignore the rest of the world.
      in America a ton is a non metric ton of 2000 non metric pounds. Tonne is a metric ton of 1000kg.

      • Robert Paul Morency says:

        Although different metric systems were entertained for centuries, the modern one came into place and was put into practice in 1790, think about it…since at least as early as 1586 the idea was proposed so why 1790? “The American Revolution” or “War of independence”, whichever you prefer to call it was over and suddenly all of these European countries who had either been fighting for the colonies or the British Empire were stuck right next to each other with the realization that trade was still vital and further aggression and tension would no-doubt hurt the bottom line. So several laws, agreements and uniformities were created to foster a sense of togetherness, They may have hidden their motives or not entirely realized them at a conscious level but whatever they called it, at the end of the day it was simply manufactured peace for profits’ sake. The colonies they each respectively owned or had ties to followed suit and their trade partners as well. The United States, on the other side of the ocean, with plenty of resources and holdings didn’t need to rely on such measures to get about their daily lives without the immediate fear of war from anyone surrounding them. the same thing happened after WWII, how quickly Germany and Japan upon realizing they were screwed if they didn’t “play well with others” sought to form ties and agreements, concessions et cetera and look how they prospered. Peace is good for business, Lucien. That’s the 35th Rule Of Acquisition.

        • Lucien Schilling says:

          Seems to me that 1790 was the year of the French revolution. And the French introduced a complete metric system. Even the time was based on a metric system but that one didn’t survive the 1st republic.

          The SI is in place since 1960 to help cooperation all over the globe. 50 years is normally enough to make the transition, but the pertinent use of the imperial measurement system is working against this, which creates confusion when 2 people are talking about the same subject, but they use different premises.

      • Michael Johnson says:

        That’s because the U.S can ignore everyone and they do. They only allow the rest of the world to entertain them as they please. People always complain about the U.S imperialistic attitude yet they’re the first ones to want to live here.

        • Lucien Schilling says:

          Well, it may be that the US cannot ignore everyone… and they learned that, when doing business (you know, that is the thing of making money and that means that you need to conform to local rules!). But that is, maybe not relevant for you, as you are living in a cocoon.

        • Arya Goswami says:

          Yeah man. I upto the fullest agree with your viewpoint which in regards to those people, also generates an enormous part of literal philosophies and absolute acknowledgements.

    • KDS vel kombajndosalatek says:

      I use word “cat” to describe that thing to open bottles

    • David Lister says:

      Yap is another idiot

  3. Tonne is an SI unit equivalent to 1000 kg and US also calls it a metric ton (always with the word metric). Ton refers to imperial units equivalent to 2000 lbs.

  4. I use Ton as a nickname for my pet goat.

  5. Robert Paul Morency says:

    “AMERICAN English speakers generally have no use for tonne, so
    the spelling rarely appears in U.S. publications. ELSEWHERE, FASTIDIOUS
    publications use the APPROPRIATE spellings for the units of measurement.”

    I resent this, you’re implying the way Americans spell it is “wrong”. Saying that the ‘Careful publishers’ who ‘aren’t American’ are always “correct”. It’s just a cultural difference, can’t we all just get along?

    • As far as I know, the authors of this article are actually American. I think it’s just saying that people who use the metric system are careful to distinguish between a metric tonne and an imperial ton.

    • Lucien Schilling says:

      American people have a tendency to ignore “the rest of the world”. :-)

      When you are doing a publication for the American market, American writers use “ton” and they mean long ton. Non-American writers use ton and they mean metric ton. Writers who are aware of the problem use “metric ton” or “tonne” to make clear that the correct unit can be used. For this however you need to understand the difference between a long to and a metric ton!

      • Michael Johnson says:

        Wrong. American writers write to mean short ton, not long. We have no reason to express tonnes as we don’t use it ever except with our puppets, I mean friends in the U.K.

        • Lucien Schilling says:

          You are right. Americans are short! And yes, you are right, Americans don’t know the term “the rest of the world” :-)

          • David Lister says:

            From some of the articles I’ve read, a lot of Americans don’t even know America!

        • David Lister says:

          You may have noticed that Blair has left the building.
          Our trousers are tightly fastened and we no longer bend over just because the fat yank is in the room!

    • David Lister says:

      Color, aluminium, jagwar…
      You DO get it wrong!
      You seem to take pleasure in bastardizing MY English language!
      You should look up the definition of the word ‘awesome’ too!

      • Pyroblade says:

        *Aluminum. Americans say and spell aluminum, not aluminium. You’re right about color and ‘jagwar’ though. Well… not really, considering Americans do pronounce the ‘u’ in jaguar as ‘oo’. So technically, you’re 66% wrong. Also, the American language often comes closer to old English than British English, because of the influence French has had on English in Great Britain. So usually the British are the ones who bastardize the English language… but in the end, it doesn’t matter. Languages evolve, they get more efficient over time. Saying that it’s a bad thing for language to be ‘bastardized’ is ignorant.

    • Arya Goswami says:

      Yeah, well to elaboration you wrote up. This satisfied me. This opinion I would judge as an extremely-parted one from others’ who merely start extracting juices from fruits without actually examining its inner essence. A perfect comment. Rate this to the fullest!!!!! Sorry for your ass. Think I measured it wrong. Its all slim. No worry……!!!!!!!!

  6. Tonne – is an imperial value of about 2240 pounds – pronounced “Tun-ay” – also known as a “long Tonne”
    Ton – is a metric value of 1000Kg – pronounced “Tun”

    2240 pounds is roughly equal to 1016Kg

    The difference is negligible in everyday use, but for SWL or weights and measures, it’s very handy to know what’s what. Of course, America has difficulty knowing what’s what at the best of times…

    • Lucien Schilling says:

      Wrong way: Ton is imperial, tonne is metric! The difference is only negligible if you are not working with exact weights. 16kg of gold will make you a rich man! :-)

      • Alyn James says:

        112 pounds = 1 hundredweight
        20 hundredweight = 2240 pounds = 1 TON.

        1000 kg = 1 TONNE (pronounced as in “con”)
        1000 X 2.2 = 2200, so 1 TONNE = 2200 pounds (40 pounds LESS than
        1 TON)


        • absolute bollocks. if you haven’t realized, hundredweights aren’t used anymore and a ton is 2,000 pounds. math is nothing if the figures are wrong. besides, you use any online conversion tool that converts between kg and tonnes and it shows 1 tonne is 1,000 kg.
          unitconversion (dot) org/weight/tonnes-to-kilograms-conversion
          convertunits (dot) com/from/kg/to/tonnes
          as just two examples.

          Amount: 1 tonne metric (t) in mass
          Equals: 1,000.00 kilograms (kg)

          from traditionaloven (dot) com/culinary-arts/weight/convert-metric-tonne-to-kilogram-kg

          • David Lister says:

            What the fuck is a ‘short hundred weight’?
            There is NO metric ‘hundred weight’. It is an imperial weight!

          • arizona says:

            are you that much of a daft cu-t and that ready to argue and say “you’re wrong” when in reality it’s your READING comprehension that poses the problem?! i was commenting on his MATHS, not saying what belonged to what system you dolt. did you NOT notice i used BOTH long AND short hundredweights?! why didn’t you try ripping me down for including POUNDS while you were at it! i DID use that too you know, in the same sentence no less. or were you too busy formulating your cutting remark to notice.

            oh yes, since you want to cut down OTHER people’s intelligence, i will point out that YOU’RE the one who’s wrong because the long hundredweight is VERY much metric. let me educate you on that.

            1.2 (also metric hundredweight)
            (In the metric system) equal to 50 kg.

            1.3 (also long hundredweight)
            (In the UK) equal to 112 lb avoirdupois (about 50.8 kg).
            from oxforddictionaries (dot) com under hundredweight

            nice try sh-t for brains. or should i give you the label of “idiot”, since you seem to love gracing everyone ELSE with it. some wankers just have to find something to argue about don’t they. even if it means misreading and misconstruing what other people have said as well as vomiting forth false information. you have failed just as much as alyn did. aren’t you proud of yourself?

            by the way, i will NOT be replying to any further mental diarrhea that you may decide to grace this discussion page with, on this comment OR any of the others i commented on. so if your obviously inflated ego goads you into making one, you’ll be wasting your time because i will NOT be back to read it and wast any further of MY time on your worthless arse. do us all a favour and just go kill yourself. the world is a happier place without worthless, arrogant and pretentious oxygen wasters, such as yourself.

          • You try to sound like you know what you’re talking about…. yet fail to realise the hundredweights …, are imperial measurements… give me ONE bit of proof that they are metric measurements of weight. That’s all. The only thing you have done is CONVERT it into metric…. I can convert a Yard into a meter, but does that make a Yard metric? NO. Fucking moron.

            To quote you verbatim: “looks like you love to go out of your way to point out other people’s
            mistakes. wow, you must think your a god or some shite when in reality,
            you’re nowt but a sad, sad and worthless little man.” That is LITERALLY what you just did in the previous comment you hypocrite, and I just pointed out your mistakes too…..

          • doctor who? says:

            you want further proof you stupid cunt? “DEFINITION of ‘Hundredweight – Cwt’ A unit of measurement for weight used in certain commodities trading contracts. In North America, a hundredweight is equal to 100 pounds and is also known as a shorthundredweight. In Britain, a hundredweight is 112 pounds and is also known as a long hundredweight.” investopedia

            “1.1(also short hundredweight)US (In the US) equal to 100 lb avoirdupois (about 45.4 kg).”

            “(also long hundredweight)(In the UK) equal to 112 lb avoirdupois (about 50.8 kg).” oxford dictionaries

            i have once again proven my case and will speak no further on this to ANYONE. so….F-CK OFF YOU WORTHLESS TROLL! any further replies by you or anyone else WILL be ignored, so don’t waste your time.

    • tonne and ton are pronounced the same. listen for yourself

      dictionary.cambridge (dot) org/us/pronunciation/british/tonne

    • David Lister says:

      Looks like all of boner’s blood has flowed away from his brain cells as he has it wrong.
      Tonne is a metric ton and 1000kg.
      Ton is imperial and 2240 lbs

      • arizona says:

        looks like you love to go out of your way to point out other people’s mistakes. wow, you must think your a god or some shite when in reality, you’re nowt but a sad, sad and worthless little man.

  7. Chuck Roast says:

    The second example of uses “unrelated to measurement” is indeed related to measurement. If states the dispensary is “literally” trading a ton. If it’s literal, it’s not metaphorical.

    • Irritatingly, in modern usage “literally” has the secondary definition of “in effect” or “virtually”. I know, yuck. It seems pretty clear to me that the secondary meaning is being used in the example.

  8. Herbert Wang says:

    Thanks for this discussion, my brain just went *poof*!!!

    • Nathan Elke says:

      Mine, too. I was around 10 years old when SI was adopted in Canada, and being a prairie boy, I heard a lot about “tons” and “tonnes” because it’s how grain is sold/shipped/etc. So in my experience, it’s always been that:
      – a ton (pronounced “tun”) was 2000 lbs, and
      – a tonne (pronounced “tawn”) was 1000 kg.

      I remember that radio stations reporting on grain prices at the time tried to use “tonne” for awhile but because of confusion between the similar names moved on to using the phrase “metric ton”., so a metric ton is 1000 kg.

      My question, now that I’m MUCH older and am a computer analyst would be “why did SI mess around with ‘metric ton’ or ‘tonne’ and not use ‘megagram’ instead?”

      In school, when learning SI, we learned the three ‘upper’ and ‘;lower’ prefixes for units of measurement (kilo/hecto/deca, deci/centi/milli) so it wouldn’t’ve been difficult to include ‘mega’ *and ‘micro’ for that matter) in that mix. Certainly it would’ve been impossible to confuse ‘ton’ with ‘megagram’ :)

  9. How heavy is a tune?

  10. 1 tonne (also known as metric ton) = exactly 1,000 kg or about 2,204.6 lb. Tonne rhymes with con and is shortened to t.

    The ton is an imperial measure and rhymes with tun.

    1 (long) ton (all current and ex imperial measures countries except the US and Canada) = 2,240 lb (so in human measures is very similar to the tonne).

    1 (short) ton (US and Canada only) = 2,000 lb (about 907 kg).

    The long ton can be further divided into 20 hundredweight (cwt), each cwt = 8 stone, each stone = 14 lb. However this is irrelevant, or should be, as all countries that used the imperial system, except the US, are now metric – but only in principle in the UK.

    Neither the short nor long ton has ascendancy over the other as both are wrong and we should all be using the metric system ! Then Brits and Americans couldn’t say the other was wrong!! Peace in our time.

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