# How big is medium?

#### yi-ing

##### Senior Member
At a Starbucks :

A: Can I get a coffee?

B: Small or medium?

A: How big is medium?
A
: How small is small ?
A: What is the size of small and medium?

Could you please check the bold parts? Do you have any suggestion?

#### emsr2d2

##### Moderator
Staff member
What size are small and medium?

#### SoothingDave

##### VIP Member
Logically speaking, you can't have a "medium" if there are only two sizes.

#### Skrej

##### Key Member
Besides, Starbucks has their own absurd elitist nomenclature - short, tall, grande, venti and trenta, so you probably won't get a straight answer anyway.

You could always ask "How many ounces is a ___________ ?" or "How many ounces are there in a ________ ?"

#### Rover_KE

##### Moderator
Staff member
No BE speaker would ask 'How many ounces ...?'

I'd just ask to see the respective sizes of the cups.

#### jutfrank

##### VIP Member
You could always ask "How many ounces is a ___________ ?" or "How many ounces are there in a ________ ?"

You guys measure drink sizes by the ounce?! :shock:

#### GoesStation

##### Moderator
Staff member
You guys measure drink sizes by the ounce?! :shock:

Yup. It's a convenient measure. Common sizes are eight, ten, twelve, sixteen, and (unbelievably but not unusual) twenty ounces.

These are US fluid ounces, of which it takes 33.8 to make a liter.

#### jutfrank

##### VIP Member
Yup. It's a convenient measure. Common sizes are eight, ten, twelve, sixteen, and (unbelievably but not unusual) twenty ounces.

These are US fluid ounces, of which it takes 33.8 to make a liter.

Convenient? How?

(I'm now trying to do the maths—how many mil is 21 ounces?)

So do you not use millilitres at all for beverages or is this only coffee? On the side of a can of Coke, does it say 330 ml?

#### GoesStation

##### Moderator
Staff member
Convenient? How?

(I'm now trying to do the maths—how many mil is 21 ounces?)

So do you not use millilitres at all for beverages or is this only coffee? On the side of a can of Coke, does it say 330 ml?
Cup sizes are convenient because they're multiples of two, and it's easy to grasp how they relate to one another. A sixteen-ounce serving is twice the size of an eight-ounce one; a twelve-ounce cup is one and a half eight-ounce cups or three quarters of a sixteen-ounce one.

Twelve fluid ounces is about 355 ml. Our pop and beer cans are about an ounce bigger than the international standard of 330 ml.

We don't use milliliters as a primary measure except for 750-ml bottles of wine or cider. Beer bottles say "12 fl oz." or "16 fl. oz. (1 pint)". Bottles of non-alcoholic liquids list ounces first, then ml in parentheses. My fridge has bottles of condiments labeled "12.5 oz (370 ml)", "5 oz (178 ml)", etc. Nobody pays any attention to the metric numbers, though.

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#### SoothingDave

##### VIP Member
Even though whiskey and other spirits are sold in 750 ml bottles, they are still generally referred to as a "fifth." (A fifth of a gallon, that is, the size used prior to the industry going all metric.)

If you stop at a convenience store for a fountain soda pop, the smallest cup is usually 16 ounces. They go up to 32 or even 44 or 56.

Yes, one drink, for one person.

Bottled water is usually in 0.5 or 1 liter bottles. Pop bottles could be as small as the 0.5 liter (16.9 ounce, a bit more than a US pint), but 20 ounces is the more common size. There are also 1 liter bottles meant for individual consumption.

#### GoesStation

##### Moderator
Staff member
Pop bottles could be as small as the 0.5 liter (16.9 ounce, a bit more than a US pint), but 20 ounces is the more common size. There are also 1 liter bottles meant for individual consumption.
The usual size sold in vending machines is 12 oz. You'll see these bigger sizes in the coolers in convenience stores, along with 12-ounce bottles and cans.

#### Skrej

##### Key Member
Oddly enough though, we do have the two-liter bottle of pop. I'm not quite sure how or why that became the standard for pop instead of two quarts, when we sell all other liquids by US customary units. If it were milk, it's be a half-gallon, but for some reason pop comes in two 'liter' bottles.

Especially since two liters is only slightly more than two quarts, I really can't explain why we have the two-liter bottle for pop, when we use US units for all other liquids. Go to a smaller container of pop, and you're back to ounces. :roll:

Although I guess technically wine is sold by the milliliter, we just refer to them as 'bottles', with no volume reference even though they do come in various sizes. Unless it's that really cheap stuff that comes in gallon bottles, then we're back to 'gallons'. I'm not sure what size boxed wines (I avoid them on principle) come in, but again they're just called 'boxes'.

As Dave mentioned, hard booze usually is referred to as a 'fifth' despite its actual measurement, although you can also get it other US units such as a pint and half-gallon. None of them are full US units anymore, liquor having converted to metric by law in the '70's, but we still cling to the old customary terms despite the actual volume discrepancies. Beer and other malt liquors still go by ounces though.

Actually, we passed a law in 1975 mandating that everything was to switch to metric, but everyone except the booze industry largely ignored it. That's the reason though you will see the metric volume in parenthesis as Goes mentioned, even though nobody pays any attention to them.

If the bottled water comes in liters, then it's usually an imported water. Domestic bottled water tends to stick to ounces.

#### emsr2d2

##### Moderator
Staff member
All bottled and canned drinks in the UK are measured in millilitres or litres. A standard can of Coke is 330ml. Plastic bottles of Coke come in 1 litre, 1.5 litres and 2 litres.

#### jutfrank

##### VIP Member
I'm learning so much about US culture!

It seems odd to me to measure containers of liquid by the weight of the contents rather than the volume of the vessel. I suppose that's just because of what I'm used to.

Does it also seem odd to you Americans that we in Europe measure by volume rather than weight?

#### GoesStation

##### Moderator
Staff member
I'm learning so much about US culture!

It seems odd to me to measure containers of liquid by the weight of the contents rather than the volume of the vessel. I suppose that's just because of what I'm used to.

Does it also seem odd to you Americans that we in Europe measure by volume rather than weight?
Aha! I suspected a misapprehension might be at the root of your perplexity. The measures I've cited above are fluid ounces. A fluid ounce measures volume, not weight. There is a rough correlation in that a fluid ounce was originally defined as the volume of one ounce of some liquid, hence the inaccurate American aphorism A pint's a pound the world 'round, which only ever worked in the United States where a pint of water weighs very nearly one pound Avoirdupois.

To add to the delights, we also have dry measures of volume. One US dry gallon is considerably larger than a liquid gallon, but still not quite as formidable as an Imperial gallon.

#### probus

##### Moderator
Staff member
Trivia follows. Please skip this if you don't want to hear about the history of British volume measures.

Jutfrank is probably too young to remember the old imperial measures. There were five ounces in a gilll. Gills were important only because spirits were sold by fractions of a gill. A good pub would give you a fifth of a gill, a bad one only a sixth..

Four gills made a pint, 20 ounces, two pints a quart, and four quarts a gallon. Although a 128 ounce US gallon was five sixths of a 160 ounce imperial gallon, this means that the imperial fluid ounce was slightly smaller than the US fluid ounce.

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#### jutfrank

##### VIP Member
The measures I've cited above are fluid ounces. A fluid ounce measures volume, not weight.

Ohh. (That 'it makes sense now' moment.)

You were clear enough in post #9, too.

#### Tdol

##### Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
A pint's a pound the world 'round, which only ever worked in the United States where a pint of water weighs very nearly one pound Avoirdupois.

As a child in the UK when we used our imperial measures, I was told that a pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter.

#### SoothingDave

##### VIP Member
I was a child in the 1970s when there were in fact two quart bottles of pop. These tended to be glass, returnable bottles. It was more common then to buy an 8-pack of glass returnable 16 oz. bottles.

My theory then is that the change to the 2 liter bottle was for several reasons. The switch to plastic bottles and the ability of the industry to standardize internationally.
The fact that the 2 liter bottle was a little bit more than 2 quarts helped acceptance, too.

#### Skrej

##### Key Member
Jutfrank is probably too young to remember the old imperial measures. There were five ounces in a Gill (sorry, I had to capitalize that because of Google's spell-checker. Gills were important only because spirits were sold by fractions of a Gill. A good pub would give you a fifth of a Gill, a bad one only a sixth..

And here I always thought 'drunk to the gills' was some kind of fish reference and being metaphorically up to your neck in booze.

To further the confusion, there are also fluid cups vs. dry cups.