What is the Difference Between Volume and Capacity? Complete Details

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Difference Between Volume and Capacity

The mathematical terms “Volume” and “Capacity” are used a lot, and they seem to describe similar things. However, there is little difference between volume and capacity is volume is the entire space inside and outside the box, while Capacity refers to the amount of substance that a container can hold. This is the space usable for holding something, like a liquid or gas. 

Understanding the difference between Volume and Capacity is important in everyday life situations, an easy way to understand the difference is to think about containers. The container itself has a volume, but its capacity is how much stuff it can hold.

What is Volume?

Volume refers to the total amount of 3D space an object occupies. Volume is a measure of the amount of space occupied by a 3D (Three-dimensional) object. In simple terms, it’s how much “stuff” can fit inside the container which can be Solid, Liquid, or Gas. It is possible to find an object’s volume by multiplying its Length, Width, and Height.

Formula for Volume: VOLUME = Length x Width x Height

Here are some key points about Volume:

  • It applies to 3D shapes only because Length and Width describe 2D space, while Volume adds depth to create a true 3D measurement.
  • Volume is expressed in cubic units, such as cubic meters (m³), cubic centimeters (cm³), or cubic inches (in³).
  • We can calculate the volume of different shapes using specific formulas.

What is Capacity?

Capacity refers to the amount of substances a container can hold. It’s essentially the usable space within a container, focusing on how much stuff you can put inside it. Unlike Volume, which can be applied to any 3D object, capacity only applies to hollow objects designed to hold something.  

Capacity of Cylinder (filled with Water)

Here’s a breakdown of key points about capacity.

  • The key aspect of capacity is its function as a container. We don’t talk about the capacity of a solid object, like a book, because it doesn’t hold anything inside.
  • Capacity is typically measured in units related to the substance being held, like Liters (L) for liquids, gallons (gal) for larger volumes of liquids, or grams (g) for powders.
  • The capacity of a container can be less than its volume.

Also Read: Difference Between Power and Exponent: Complete Details

What is the Difference Between Volume and Capacity?

Here is the table summarizing the key differences between Volume and Capacity.

AspectVolume Capacity
DefinitionThe amount of space occupied by an object.The maximum amount an object can hold.
UnitsCubic Units  (e.g, cubic meters, cubic feet)Any appropriate unit (e.g., litres, gallons)
MeasurementMeasured in three dimensions (length, width, height)Typically measured in a single dimension
RepresentationRepresented as a 3D figure or solidRepresented as a container or vessel
ExamplesThe volume of a box, cylinder, or sphereThe capacity of a bottle, tank, or jar
RelationshipThis can be directly measured or calculated using formulasThis can be inferred by measuring volume or by direct measurement
ApplicationUsed in geometry, engineering, fluid dynamicsCommonly used in cooking, manufacturing, and packaging

Difference Between Volume and Capacity Formulas

There are many formulas for Volume, depending on the specific 3D shape you’re dealing with. Here are some common ones.

Volume Formulas

3D Objects FormulaAbbreviations
CuboidV = l × b × hV = volume (cubic units)l = length (of base)b = width (of base)h = height
Cubea = side of the cube
CylinderV = πr²hπ (pi) is a mathematical constant (approximately 3.14)r = radius (of the base)h = height
SphereV = (4/3)πr³r = radius
ConeV = (1/3)πr²hr = radius (of the base)h = height
(half of a sphere)
V = (2/3)πr³r = radius
PrismV = Area of base x Height
PyramidV = (1/3)B × hB = area of the base (can be a triangle, square, etc.)h = height

Capacity Formula

Capacity is often measured in the same units as volume (liters, gallons, etc.), but it can be less than the volume due to the container’s shape or design. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for capacity it depends on the specific container.

Application of Difference Between Volume and Capacity in Real Life

Volume and capacity are both crucial concepts used in many everyday situations. Here are some examples of volume and capacity in real life.

  • Following recipes often requires measuring specific volumes of ingredients, like cups of flour or liters of milk, to ensure the proper proportions and final product.
  • Selecting a bucket with the appropriate volume helps you carry enough cleaning solution or water for the job without making it too heavy.
  • Estimating the volume of a wall or room helps determine the amount of paint or building materials needed to cover the entire surface.
  • The proper water ratio to cement powder is often based on volume measurements to ensure the concrete has the desired strength when cured.
  • Considering the volume of the items you plan to store helps you choose containers with the right capacity to hold everything efficiently.
  • Food labels often list the volume or weight of the contents, allowing you to compare product sizes and choose the best value.
  • Airlines and other transportation services might have limitations on the volume or weight of luggage you can bring.
  • Knowing the fuel tank capacity of your car helps you plan how far you can travel on a single fill-up.

Also Read: What is the Difference Between Density and Weight?


What is the difference between volume and capacity for example?

For example, let’s say there is a tank that holds water. In this case, the volume is the space taken up by the tank and the water inside it, while the capacity is the amount of water that is needed to fill the tank.

What is the difference between volume and capacity activity?

The amount of liquid that a container can hold is called its capacity. Volume tells you how much space something takes up.

What is similar between volume and capacity?

A thing’s volume is how much space it takes up, and its capacity is how much fluid it can hold.

This was all about the “Difference between Volume and Capacity”.  For more such informative blogs, check out our Study Material Section, you can learn more about us by visiting our  Indian exams page.

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