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U.S. Customary Units to Measure Capacity

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  • 0:00 U.S. Capacity Units
  • 1:30 The Conversions
  • 3:22 Example 1
  • 3:50 Example 2
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

After watching this video lesson, you will know how capacity or volume is measured in the U.S. You will know the units that are used as well as how to convert between the units.

U.S. Capacity Units

Living in the United States, you are probably very familiar with measurement units, such as ounces, cups, pints, quarts, and gallons. These are the U.S. measurement units for capacity or volume. The smallest measurement unit is the ounce, followed by the cup, then the pint, then the quart, and finally the gallon. The gallon is the largest.

You'll see ounces used to measure small amounts of liquid. You might have seen ounces in use at the post office as a weight measurement as well. To differentiate between that ounce and the ounce used to measure volume, the volume ounce is referred to as the fluid ounce.

To give you an idea of how big these measurements are, a literal cup holds roughly 1 cup. A pint is the size of those small milk containers that usually come with school lunches. And you will find quart containers and gallon containers of milk sold at the grocery stores.

Some of the units also have an abbreviation associated with them. Ounces are abbreviated as fl oz, or simply oz if it is clear that fluid ounces are being used. So, 7 fluid ounces can also be written 7 fl oz or 7 oz. Cups is abbreviated with a c, and pints are abbreviated as pt. 2 cups is 2 c, for example. Quarts are abbreviated as qt, and gallons are abbreviated as gal. So, 9 gallons can also be written as 9 gal.

The Conversions

To convert between these units, we make use of their equivalent measurements. Each unit is equal to a certain amount of another.

The equivalent of 1 cup is 8 fluid ounces: 1 c = 8 fl oz

1 pint is equal to 2 cups: 1 pt = 2 c

2 pints make up 1 quart: 1 qt = 2 pt

Lastly, 1 gallon is made up of 4 quarts: 1 gal = 4 qt

To use these equivalent measurements, you multiply by the equivalent when going from larger to smaller, and you divide when going from smaller to larger. For example, going from cups to fluid ounces, you multiply by the equivalent, which is 8 in this case. Going from cups to pint, you divide by the equivalent, which is 2 for cups and pints.

To make a conversion that is not listed above, you can do it in steps. So, to convert 1 quart to cups, you first do the conversion from quarts to pints, then you do the conversion from pints to cups. To convert from quarts to pints, you multiply by 2 since you are going from larger to smaller. Multiplying 1 by 2, you get 1 * 2 = 2 pints.

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