What is volume? It is a word that can have several meanings, such as a number in a series of books; but in terms of measurement we are looking at how much space an object or liquid occupies. For example, if I have an empty bottle and want to fill it up, how much liquid can fit in there?

Volume is measured using litres and millilitres, but for larger objects it can be measured in cubic metres. An alternative to millilitres is cubic centimetres, in that they are the same size, just different names, both measuring small volumes. Let us see how this looks below:

volume of 1 millilitre

If we take a small cube, which has each side measuring 1 centimetre in length, we have a volume of 1 cubic centimetre.

If we have something similar but bigger, so that each side is 10 centimetres in length, we see, from the image below, that it has a volume of 1000 cubic centimetres, which we also call 1 litre:

volume of 1 litre

But not everything is a nice perfect cube shape, therefore volumes are not always easy to measure for solid objects, but usually we only want to know the volume of something liquid. We can use litres and cubic centimetres, or even cubic metres, as well as millilitres, for measuring solid objects, or space that something might fit into, e.g. the space of your car boot, as well as for liquids such as drinks, water, and for gas.

For easy reference:

1 cubic centimetre = 1 millilitre

1000 millilitres = 1 litre = 1 cubic decimetre

1000 litres = 1 cubic metre

Here are some examples:

Item Volume
Bottle of water bought from a supermarket Small: 500 ml
medium: 1 litre
large: 2 litres
Luggage space in car boot

Small car: 200 litres

Medium car: 380 litres

Large car: 500 litres

Estate car: 540 litres

People carrier:

with all seats upright, 330 litres

with only 2 rows of seats, 800 litres

with 1 row of seats, luggage piled up to the roof, 2.6 cubic metres (2600 litres)

car boot typical size 200 to 500 litres
Fridge internal capacity

Small: 100 litres

Medium: 150 litres

Large: 350 litres


Small glass: 150 millilitres

Larger glass: 250 ml

Bottle: 75 cl (750 ml)

wine bottle 75 cl and glass 15 cl

Small glass: 220 ml

Pint glass: 568 ml

small glass 220 ml pint glass = 568 ml

Tea mug: 250 ml

Tea pot: 1.1 L = 1100 ml

mug holds 250 ml

teapot holds 1100 ml

Milk carton Carton of milk, e.g. soya milk: 1 litre
1 litre of milk
Kettle Max usable capacity: 1.7 litre
kettle 1.7 L
Bath 225 litres
bath 225 L
Swimming pool If we take large sized pool, length 50 metres, width 25 m, shallow end depth of 2 m, deep end depth of 3 m, then the volume is 3125 cubic metres, which equates to 3 125 000 litres of water.

A smaller pool, such as pictured, with length 18 m, width 6 m, depths 1 m to 2 m, has a volume of 162 m3 which is 162 000 litres.

swimming pool 162 cubic metres of water