What's the natural way to ask about degrees of the weather?

Can I ask: "What's the temperature?" or "What's the weather like now?" and people will understand I'm asking the degrees?

Asking "How many degrees of Celsius are now?" or "How many degrees are now?" are natural? Or maybe another way to ask appropriately what I want.

  • 3
    I would say, "what's the temperature?", but it's almost impossible that someone in the US would answer back the temperature in Celsius. – Cardinal Jun 5 at 6:20
  • 3
    "How many degrees (of Celsius) are now?" is quite unnatural. Asking "How many?" for temperature doesn't work because you don't count degrees. Temperature is just a number; it's not a number OF anything. – Hello Goodbye Jun 5 at 14:54
  • 6
    To ask specifically about the temperature in Celsius (as opposed to Fahrenheit if in the U.S.), you could ask "what is the temperature in degrees Celsius?". – Kodos Johnson Jun 5 at 16:20
  • What's the weather like now? would normally be answered with a statement about the current wind and/or precipitation (rain, snow,...), rather than temperature. If you specifically wanted to know the temperature, you'd probably explicitly ask about that. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 5 at 17:32
  • 1
    "How many degrees of Celsius are now?" is ungrammatical. It would be "How many degrees Celsius is it now?", which is grammatical, but unusual compared to the simple "What's the temperature?". – Boann Jun 5 at 19:36

Weather doesn't have degrees, it has states and conditions.

If you ask what the weather is like, you'll likely get a response similar to the following:

It's (windy, raining, sunny, snowing, hot, cold).

It would be unusual to get a response with the actual temperature unless it's something particularly noteworthy:

"You wouldn't believe how hot it is! It's up to 35°C / 95°F!"

If the temperature is specifically what you want to know, then you should ask about it specifically:

"What's the temperature?"

| improve this answer | |

"What's the temperature outside?" would be a totally natural way to ask this. You can shorten this to just "What's the temperature?" if you think it's clear that you're talking about the temperature outside. You can also add "now" or "right now" if you want.

If you know that it's cold outside, it would also sound totally natural to ask "How cold is it outside?"; and likewise, if it's hot, you can ask "How hot is it outside?"

"How many degrees are now?" sounds ungrammatical. On the other hand, the question "How many degrees are there now?" would be grammatical—but it's still incorrect! After all, we don't say "There are 30 degrees outside"; we say "It's 30 degrees outside". So you can't ask about "how many degrees there are".

You could ask "How many degrees is it now?", and that wouldn't be incorrect—but it's just not something people say. If you ask the question that way, people will think that maybe you don't know the word "temperature".

In summary:

  • What's the temperature outside? – good
  • How cold is it outside? – good if it's cold outside
  • How hot is it outside? – good if it's hot outside
  • How many degrees are now? – ungrammatical
  • How many degrees are there now? – incorrect (but not ungrammatical)
  • How many degrees is it now? – sounds strange (but not incorrect)
| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Also, depending where you are, you'd probably need to confirm whether you're asking about degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit. (For example, the UK has been using Celsius for many decades, but some older folk still think in Fahrenheit. While in the USA, I think Fahrenheit is still customary.) – gidds Jun 5 at 21:57
  • 2
    @gidds: In the US, you will be given Fahrenheit. Celsius basically doesn't exist here. – Kevin Jun 5 at 23:08
  • "How many degrees is it outside?" is fine, it's just used less because it puts emphasis on "degrees", the unit of measurement, whereas using the word "temperature" is more neutral. There are times where you want this emphasis, for example "What's the temperature outside?" "Cold." "How many degrees?" "Forty or so." – bjb568 Jun 7 at 23:06

Asking "what's the temperature?" or "what's the temperature outside? are both perfectly normal. However, your response will almost certainly be in Fahrenheit if you are in the U.S. If you are in the U.S. and you need to ask specifically for the temperature in Celsius, the best way would be to ask, "what's the temperature in Celsius?"

This would be a shortened and casual way of asking "what is the current local temperature measured in Celsius?" However, it can be assumed in casual conversation that you are asking for the temperate here and now and that Celsius is a unit of measurement.

Therefore, you can simply ask: "what's the temperature in Celsius?"

| improve this answer | |
  • I'd just add that "what's the temperature in Celsius?" is grammatical, but an unusual question to ask in the US. It implies that the person you're asking not only knows the exact current temperature (unless they have a phone or smartwatch where this information is readily available, that's not a figure that many people know all the time), but also can quickly convert it into Celsius, which is not commonly used. It would be a bit like asking someone the current barometric pressure: a proper question in the English language, but not one most people can answer for you without research. – Zach Lipton Jun 6 at 23:52
  • @ZachLipton Presumably, if you did ask someone if the US the current barometric pressure, the answer would be in some crazy units like "inches of mercury" that nobody else in the world understands anyway :) (My favourite "international units in the US " anecdote is Boeing's version of metric units for designing their planes. The fuselage is made in section 2.54 meters long. That is exactly 8 feet 4 inches, of course. "A hundred inches" is as close to "metric units" as you are going to get! – alephzero Jun 7 at 1:47
  • @ZachLipton The U.S. is a large country with numerous different social norms. I'm sure your comment would be correct if one was to travel to an area of the country that has seem smaller amounts of immigration over the last few years and I can only speak for Northern California, Florida, and Kansas City (the three areas I have personally lived for over a couple years) but many people in all of those locations commonly speak in terms of Celsius (although not so much in Kansas City) due to the large Latin populations that have been immigrating there. – Display name Jun 7 at 3:33
  • Rare that you would ask "What's the temperature in Celsius?" unless you were in a "professional" context. You'd say: "What's the temperature (outside, or whatever)?" And you'd get the answer something like "About 25, I think," and the Celsius or Fahrenheit nature would be understood in the context it is given. "Is that Celsius or Fahrenheit?" may then be asked in an ironic tone if the weather is distinctly unusual. And in any case, in colloquial contexts, the word "Centigrade" would often (erroneously, yes I know) be used. – Prime Mover Jun 7 at 6:51
  • @PrimeMover What's wrong with saying "centigrade"? If anything it's more accurate than "Celsius" given that the scale Anders Celsius proposed was the other way up. – Especially Lime Jun 7 at 15:19

Cambridge Dictionary defines temperature as:

the measured amount of heat in a place or in the body.

When you are asking about the temperature outside, it simply means that you are asking for the degree of the heat outside.

Whereas Cambridge Dictionary defines weather as:

the conditions in the air above the earth such as wind, rain, or temperature, especially at a particular time over a particular area.

When someone asks for the weather outside, that person is generally asking if it’s hazy, windy or rainy. Weather is a broader term which includes temperature and other units such as humidity, precipitation, cloudiness and visibility.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Well, strictly speaking, temperature doesn't need to be measured in degrees, Kelvin are also a valid measurement, although an unlikely response :) – ljrk Jun 5 at 19:42
  • 2
    @jamesqf I am afraid I have to tell you that the kelvin is not written as a degree. The kelvin scale never uses a degree as its SI unit. – Prince ßádhWoloski Jun 6 at 16:22
  • 1
    @jamesqf Nope, its 0 K but -273°C. Just like 180° and π rad for the circumference. – ljrk Jun 6 at 17:53
  • 1
    @jamesqf I am interested to know that why you consider degrees kelvin to be correct. As discussed earlier, it’s informal to say ‘degrees kelvin’. Something which is informal isn’t said to be official. Just because it’s convenient to understand “degrees kelvin” that doesn’t make it correct to use it. I would have got my marks deducted, if I had used “degrees kelvin” in my science exam. – Prince ßádhWoloski Jun 7 at 17:23
  • 2
    @jamesqf Those who use Kelvin at all, will do so in a scientific context. There, scientific correctness will be what counts, not poetic licence :) – Hagen von Eitzen Jun 7 at 21:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.