Is volume and capacity the same thing?

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In spite of being very similar concepts, they are not the same thing. Every geometric solid is a three dimensional object, so it takes up space and that is why it has volume, which means the amount of “space” the object takes up.

When we talk about capacity, we are usually talking about what the object is able to carry and it generally applies to liquids. Let’s consider the example of a bottle of wine which takes up a certain volume (the calculation of it doesn’t usually take into account the thickness of the glass). The amount of liquid the bottle can carry shows us its capacity. So, the amount of liquid is equal to the internal volume of a container, because when we fill that container, the liquid takes the shape of it. In short, capacity is the internal volume of a container.

volume and capacity

The most used volume units are the cubic metre (`m^3`), the cubic decimetre (`dm^3`) and the cubic centimetre (`cm^3`). The most used capacity units are the litre (`l`), the decilitre (`dl`) and the centilitre (`cl`). These two measurement units can easily be related as it follows:

  • 1 cubic metre (`m^3`) of volume corresponds to the capacity of 1000 litres.
  • 1 cubic decimetre (`dm^3`) of volume corresponds to the capacity of 1 litre.


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