'Tonne' vs 'Ton': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on December 12, 2022

Should you use ‘tonne’ or ‘ton’? What’s the difference between the two? You might be wondering. We’ll cover that in this article, plus teach you how to use the correct word in a sentence.

Don’t feel like skimming? Here’s the short answer:

  • If you’re using the metric system (like most of the world), use ‘tonne.’
  • However, if you’re not (like in the U.S.), you should use ‘ton.’

‘Ton’ vs. ‘Tonne’ – What’s the Difference? Which One is Heavier?

The difference, as you just learned, is that one should only be used with British audiences, while the other is okay to use with American, Canadian, and Australian English speakers.

Neither is heavier than the other, technically, since they both essentially mean the same thing.

The Difference Between ‘Ton’ and ‘Tonne’

The only two differences between these two words are the spelling and the audience you’d use them with, which we just discussed.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Ton’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘ton’ is: “any various units of weight: a) short ton, b) a metric ton,” “a great quantity: lot,” “a unit of internal capacity for ships equal to 100 cubic feet,” “a unit approximately equal to the volume of a long ton of weight of seawater used in reckoning the displacement of ships and equal to 35 cubic feet,” and “a unit of volume for cargo freight usually reckoned at 40 cubic feet.”

As a noun, it’s defined as: “the prevailing fashion: vogue” and “the quality or state of being smart or fashionable.”

Take a look at a few synonyms of the first definition of the word:

  • Abundance
  • Boatload
  • Bundle
  • Chunk
  • Fistful
  • Barrel
  • Bucket
  • Basketful
  • Bunch
  • Carload
  • Bushel
  • Good deal
  • Plateful
  • Pile
  • Wad
  • Wealth

Synonyms for the second definition of the word include:

  • Buzz
  • Fashion
  • Hot ticket
  • Craze
  • Latest
  • Vogue
  • Enthusiasm
  • Chic
  • Style
  • Dernier cri
  • Trend
  • Sensation
  • Flavor
  • Fad
  • Go
  • Rage

Definition and Meaning of ‘Tonne’ 

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘tonne’ is: “metric ton.”

A Brief History

The word ‘tonne’ was first used in 1869. It comes from the French word tonne, tun, from Old French.

As you can see, there’s no real difference between the two words. Now, let’s take a look at how to use them both in a sentence correctly.

How to Use ‘Ton’ and ‘Tonne’ in a Sentence 

Now that we know what the words mean let’s take a look at how to use them in a sentence correctly.

  • I’ve got a ton of homework due tomorrow, and I haven’t even started on it.
  • There’s a ton of anime I just can’t get enough of.
  • That elephant weighs more than a ton.
  • My bunny used to weigh a ton, but we got him on a healthier diet.
  • We haven’t had a ton of traffic since we opened up for business.
  • The buses couldn’t cross the bridge because they weighed more than a ton.

Remember that ‘ton’ and ‘tonne’ can be used interchangeably. So, when you need to write for a different audience, you can easily swap one word for the other.

Final Thoughts on ‘Ton’ and ‘Tonne’

Now that we know what both words mean and the correct usage for each one, you should feel confident enough to use both words in a sentence on your own. Use the above examples as a guide to help you formulate your own sentences.

If you ever get stuck, you can always come back and brush up on what you’ve learned. We’ve got a whole library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases you might come across in the English language as you’re learning it. We’re here whenever you need a quick refresher.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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