**Metre** is the unit of **length** in the **SI system** and **square metres **is the** SI units **for calculating** area. **The confusion arises when we see metres squared written or spoken. People cannot make out the difference between **square metres** and **metres squared** and assume they are the same, which they are not!

For example

If a square room has a length of 2 metres and is 2 metres in breadth, you can easily calculate its area with this formula.

Area= Length x Breadth |
A=l × b |

2 metres x 2 metres |
A = 2 m × 2 m |

4 square metres |
A = 4 m^{2} |

The room has an area of 4 square metres

If you say that this is 4 metres squared what you mean is an area which has the length of 4 metres and you are multiplying it by a breadth of 4 metres which would give you an area of 16 square metres and not 4 square metres. That gives you a very different area.

An Area = 4 metres squared |

4 metres x 4 metres |

16 square metres |

So if someone asks you the correct area of the room mentioned above, you should say that the area is **4 square metres** both of which are correct answers.

But beware more confusion arises as 1 m x 1 m= 1 square metres while 1 metre squared is also the same size as 1 × 1 = 1. You just get there by different routes.

Even though the unit looks like it is written as metres squared you pronounce it **square metres.**

Hope this clears any confusion you might have on this one!

Actually I ought to put a post script in!

**The same applies to volumes**

The correct SI unit for **volume** is **cubic metres**, (or in Chemistry they might use cubic centimetres). If you say metres cubed you mean that this is the length of one side and you need to cube this value to get the volume.

This cube could be described as 125 cubic centimetres or 5 centimetres cubed.

I wasn’t sure that I ought to have posted this, but it looks like it is less well understood than I imagined, definitely my only popular post!

Thanks to Andy and Gareth Lewis Maths tuition for these additional thoughts.

Hi, the examples that you have given for metre square and square metre are incorrect.

2 metre square = 4 square metre (2×2=4)

2 square metre = 1 metre x 2 metre (1×2=2)

Andy

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Good article. Andy’s alternative examples are also correct.

As well as the difference in size between square metres and metres squared (except when you have zero of each or one of each) there is a difference in shape. A metre square is a square with sides one metre in length – it refers to the shape and the side length, not the area. By contrast, a square metre is an area and can be any shape. A square metre could, for example, be in the shape of an oblong of dimensions 50cm x 2m, or in the shape of an A0 sheet, or 16 A4 sheets in any pattern.

This post cleared a doubt of almost 25 years.thanks for your clear communication

it’s amazing how many retailers are not aware of the difference !

….And Science and maths teachers too.

Hi, the examples that you have given for metre square and square metre are incorrect.

2 metre square = 4 square metre (2×2=4)

2 square metre = 1 metre x 2 metre (1×2=2)

Hmm, I agree with you Andy. But this is where the problem starts 2m x 1m = 2 square metres but we agree that a square of side 2m x 2m would be 4 square metres (4m

^{2}) that is why it is better to use the correct term and use square metres for area! Thank you for your help! What would you say to a square of side 1.414 m?Good article. Andy’s alternative examples are also correct.

As well as the difference in size between square metres and metres squared (except when you have zero of each or one of each) there is a difference in shape. A metre square is a square with sides one metre in length – it refers to the shape and the side length, not the area. By contrast, a square metre is an area and can be any shape. A square metre could, for example, be in the shape of an oblong of dimensions 50cm x 2m, or in the shape of an A0 sheet, or 16 A4 sheets in any pattern.

The problem is trying to find out what is the legal aspect of ordering something that is written as 2 m squared and then recieving something that is only 2 square meters ?

If I was the customer I’d want it clear in the order.

I think I need another blog post on why it is written and said differently.

If the square is 4 square meters why have you put it as ( 4 meters squared)

That’s the point. It is written as m2 but said as square metres.

That’s the point it is written in a different way to how it is pronounced.

How can it be written different to how it is written ?

Your explanation of M2 v square meters is total gobbledygook