Sometimes, getting the right plural form for a word can make for a challenge while you’re learning English. It can be even more challenging when considering both American and British variations, and “ton” is one such example.
Is It Tonnes Vs Tons?
The plural of “ton” is “tons,” and it is the only variation that can be used when you’re talking about “tons” in American English. A ton is a unit of measurement in America which is equal to 2,000 lbs. However, that doesn’t mean that “tonnes” isn’t a correct form. A “tonne” is a completely different unit of measurement.
Is Tons Vs Tonnes Used Differently In American English And British English?
American English and British English use the two words differently. A “ton” isn’t used in British English because they do not use the imperial system in Britain. Instead, British English uses the “tonne” (or “metric ton”), which equates to 1,000 kg (which is heavier than an American English “ton”). The same rule does apply for the plural form, though, and an “s” is added on the end to show that more than one “tonne” is present.
Besides the US, almost everywhere else in the world will be more familiar with the British English “tonne.”
If I Am Not From Either The UK Or The US – Should I Write Tonnes Or Tons?
If you’re not from the UK or the US (and from a non-English speaking country at that), you should use “tonnes.” Unless you’re having direct working relations with the US or US commerce, you’ll rarely need to use an American “ton.” Most of the world already deals in the metric system and will use a “metric ton” (tonne), so you’ll be better off using that.
Of course, it comes down to personal preference. If you’ve always used pounds to measure weight over kilograms, then the American English “ton” will be more suited to you. However, if you’re the other way around and prefer kilograms over pounds, then the British English “ton” will be the best option for you.
What Is The Meaning Of Tons Vs Tonnes?
“Tons” is the plural form of “ton” in American English. It is used to show that there is more than one ton. Since it is a unit of measurement, saying something is more than one ton means that it is x number of tons (x multiplied by 2,000 lbs). It’s a good way to weigh up the size and weight of large freight, though it’s rarely used in other places because most things aren’t that heavy. You might hear about tons only when weighing animals (namely elephants) or vehicles.
Just like the American English variant, the British English “tonne” also refers to heavy weight (heavier, in fact, than the “ton”). When you use “tonnes,” you’re referring to there being more than one tonne in any given load. Again, the number of tonnes dictates how heavy the load is (x multiplying the number of tonnes). Instead of just being 2,000 lbs per ton, though, the “tonne” is 1,000 kg (which is roughly 2,200 lbs for reference).
How To Remember If The Correct Spelling Is Tonnes Vs Tons
Now that we’ve covered which word variation comes from where it’s time to remember the best ways to spell it. Like we said above, you’ll see that most of the time, the “tonne” is used outside of the US, so it makes more sense to remember it. One of the easiest ways to remember the difference is that the “tonne” is heavier. Since it is a longer word by two letters, you can attribute that to its weight.
If that’s not enough for you, you could always give yourself a little geography lesson. Since “tonne” ends in “NE,” and the island of Great Britain is located North-East of continental USA, then you can remember that “tonne” is reserved for the British English rules, and “ton” without the “NE” is reserved for American English.
Hopefully, one of those ways will help you remember “ton” for American English and “tonne” for British English. Again, you might never have to use it, but it’s a handy unit of measurement to have in mind and ready to use, just in case.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.