10

If someone is 169cm tall, what is the most common way of saying their height in metres and centimetres in American/Australian/British English?

I'm not interested in converting metres (meters) and centimetres (centimeters) into feet and inches, which would be “five foot six” (5'6"), I know how to say and write that. I'm asking about the metric system, which of the following is most commonly used in speech? Or which form do you feel is most natural?

169cm tall

  1. “I'm a hundred and sixty-nine centimetres tall.”
  2. “I'm one hundred and sixty-nine centimetres tall.”
  3. “I'm a hundred sixty-nine centimetres tall.”
  4. “I'm a/one hundred 'n' sixty-nine.”
  5. “I'm one metre and sixty-nine centimetres tall.”
  6. “I'm one metre and sixty-nine tall.”
  7. “I'm one metre sixty-nine.”
  8. “I'm a metre and sixty-nine centimetres tall.”
  9. “I'm a metre and sixty-nine.”
  10. “I'm one point sixty-nine.”

How would an American/British/Australian represent this in writing? Should I place a space between the number and the unit: e.g. ‘169 cm’. With or without a full stop/period: e.g, ‘169 cm.’ or ‘169cm’?

(a) 169cm; 169cm.; 169 cm.
(b) 1.69m; 1.69m.; 1.69 m.
(c) 1m.69; 1m. 69
(d) 1m.69cm; 1m. 69cm

Could you please add where you're from, if you're in the US (and which state), Australia/New Zealand, the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, N.Ireland) or Ireland. These are the regions I'm most interested in. Thank you!

Addendum
A user in the comment section observed:

I am (honestly) missing the (real) point of your question

The reason why I'm asking is that the average person in Italy would say: "I'm one metre and sixty-nine", and you'd think it would be the same elsewhere. But while I was helping a young Italian student with their English homework, I saw their exercise book expressed height only in centimetres. I thought this was rather odd, not wrong, just odd. I know that Americans express people's weight in pounds whereas the British stick to the imperial system of stones and ounces; while the rest of Europe (to the best of my knowledge) use kilos and grams.

I wanted to be certain whether all Americans, Australians and British express metric height in the same way, (i.e. in centimetres) or if there are regional differences.

P.S. Although I always mention to private students that Americans and the British still prefer the imperial system for people's weight and height, I cannot expect a ten-year-old Italian child to know their height in feet and in inches, and why should they? I cannot expect them to tell me the height of the Eiffel Tower in feet (1,063 ft) or miles (0.186 mi).

  • 2
    There isn't a right answer to this question, how will you choose which answer to accept? – Minnow Oct 24 '15 at 2:26
  • 3
    Five-foot six and a half is the only well-understood way to express this height for Americans, so really just about anything else is equally good (bad), so long as you specify the units— thus, my vote would go to 1–3, 5, and 8. Otherwise, your conversation partner is going to want to confirm: One meter and sixty-nine: you mean sixty-nine centimeters, right? – choster Oct 24 '15 at 2:44
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA Shouldn't you be closing your own question as garnering answers that are merely a matter of opinion? That said, no one in the US will have any idea what you're talking about if you mention meters and centimeters. I'm from the state of English measures, which I think are guaranteed under the Constitution. – deadrat Oct 24 '15 at 2:48
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA I'm a student of irony, not a closer of sincerely-posted questions. None of those is idiomatic in the US as far as I can tell. – deadrat Oct 24 '15 at 3:02
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA Well, you didn't provide a context. If someone walks up to you and asks how tall are you? you can answer 169 centimeters and be understood. If someone asks what's your measurements? and you answer 169 centimeters, there will be a pause as the American works out whether that's a shoe size or an inseam; 169 is right out. It's not just metric, either. If an American nurse asked for your weight and you replied 8 stone and 5 you'd get as quizzical a look as if you complained that a tall drip coffee was almost 20 zloty in San Francisco these days. – choster Oct 24 '15 at 3:42
10
+100

The most common form that I hear in spoken Australian English from the options you've provided is the same as Minnow's answer:

  1. “I'm a hundred and sixty-nine centimetres tall.”

A little less common, but perfectly idiomatic is:

  1. “I'm one metre sixty-nine.”

However, the most common form that I hear in conversational (Australian) English is none of the above:

  • "I'm one-sixty-nine centimetres."

Both 'hundred [and]' and 'tall' are dropped as being redundant given the context (being asked for your height), and frequently 'centimetres' is dropped as well, leaving just "I'm one-sixty-nine".

  • 1
    Yes, no need to use hundred. – user140086 Oct 24 '15 at 5:12
  • 2
    If asked, the answer would be (in Australian strine): 'One sixynine.' Followed - perhaps after some considerable reflective pause - by, "Wide yer arse? – John Mack Nov 8 '15 at 13:39
3

“I'm a hundred and sixty-nine centimetres tall.”

Source: That's what I'd say.

Location: Northeast US

  • are you sure? I'd be very happy for this to be the case, but I thought Americans dropped the "and" in numbers? But a +1 anyway, as this is what I'd say (if forced to give a height in metric). South UK. – AndyT Nov 10 '15 at 15:58
  • I'd say "I'm five foot six, in whatever the metric would be." (Or, if really coerced, I'd maybe say "I'm one sixty nine kims".) – Hot Licks Nov 14 '15 at 23:54
  • @HotLicks Five foot six or five feet six? – Færd Jun 11 '16 at 11:18
  • @Færd - Either one will work. "Five foot six" is a bit more idiomatic when stating one's height. – Hot Licks Jun 11 '16 at 11:19
  • @HotLicks Thanks. Would you agree that it's either I'm 5 feet 6 inches or I'm five foot six? – Færd Jun 11 '16 at 11:24
3

The only group of people that I know of in the US that would consistently use metric for height would be the medical community (aeronautics and engineering? but those aren't for height). Body mass index (BMI) and medications given IV (chemotherapy and whatnot) utilize the patients height in meters. As such, a physician or nurse or technician would say "one point six nine meters." I'm from Illinois.

  • Oh, that's interesting to know. Basically, those in the medical field will just read individual numbers, almost like a telephone number. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '15 at 18:17
  • Americans can be simple like that. You may now use your pun of choice. – Stu W Nov 14 '15 at 18:19
  • No, but it's very true. Americans are practical people, when they can, they will simplify things. They much more open to doing things in a pragmatic matter. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '15 at 18:22
3

I'd say 169 cm. I'm in the UK but I suspect there will a big difference between age groups, because a lot of people will still refer to their height in feet and inches if they were born before metrication took hold; giving the height in metric feels odd for some of us oldies.

Regarding the space between the units, the SI system that defines the units states that there should always be a space between the units and the number so if you were trying to be technically correct there would be a space; the SI system treats the units as an algebraic expression. However, if you wanted to know how people generally write units, I would say that a space is very rarely included; I rigorously try to use a space but it's a real nuisance as it needs to be non-breaking.

I don't think I've seen anyone write 1 m 69 cm; always one unit: 1.69 m or 169 cm.

I'd say it as "I'm a hundred and sixty-nine centimetres."

I'm in England.

  • 1
    "I'm a hundred and sixty-nine centimetres." Forgot to mention, I'm in England. – steveb Nov 9 '15 at 9:06
1

I am US-English and would say "one-sixty-nine", never "one hundred sixty-nine", possibly "a hundred sixty-nine".

I am struggling with same issue in a Japanese to English translation, funnily the subject is also 169cm!

In the text I am working on in Japanese it is written out "1 meter 69 centimeters" but now I feel comfortable using "169 centimeters" - thanks for this question!!

1

This question makes a lot of sense, I was also wondering about this issue. I am not a native speaker of English. I live in Australia. I asked my children. The answer: "I would say I am one hundred and seventy two centimetres".

0

In scandinavia we only use the digits, since it's already implicit what measure is at hand. "How tall are you?" "One-sixtynine"

That's it. 1m69cm = one-sixtynine. 2m04cm = two-o'four. Etc., etc.

  • 3
    Presumably Scandinavians do not usually say it in English. "Two oh four"? – Andrew Leach Feb 8 '17 at 11:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.