Matter and Its States

Matter and Its States

The matter has its states, and this is apparent from our daily experiences – we see solids, liquids, and gases. However, there are more states than this, curious about the matter more? Read on.

The matter is defined as any material that has mass and occupies space. Some examples of matter can be sugar, sand, metals, rocks, and minerals, among others. The matter is made up of smaller particles, technically known as atoms. The matter has physical and chemical properties and has 5 distinct states. 

States of Matter:

  • Solid
  • Liquid 
  • Gas
  • Plasma

Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

While the first 3 states, i.e., solid, liquid, and gas are the widely discussed states of matter, plasma and BEC are 2 other states, which we do not encounter in daily-life applications. In the table below, we will be distinguishing the 3 main states of matter.

  1. Solids 
  2. Liquids
  3. Gases

  • The particles in solids are tightly packed.
  • In liquids, the particles are a bit loosely packed, when compared to solids.
  • Gases have the most loosely packed particles, out of all the 3 states.
  • They have a definite shape and fixed volume
  • Liquids have a definite volume, but they do not have a definite shape like solids. They take the shape of the container they are held in.
  • Gases have no fixed volume or fixed shape.
  • Particles in solids have a very high force of attraction and hence a lot of pressure is required to compress them.
  • The force of attraction among the particles constituting liquids is low when compared to solids and hence it is easy to compress them.
  • Gases have absolutely no force of attraction between particles. They travel freely in the air. They can also be easily compressed into containers.
  • Due to the high force of attraction, the rate of diffusion of particles is low in solids.
  • The rate of diffusion of particles in liquids is moderately high when compared to solids. 
  • Gases have the highest rate of diffusion among all the 3 different states of matter. 
  • (This can be proved by how fast we can sense smells in air!)
  • Kinetic energy of particles in solids is almost zero
  • Particles in liquids attain kinetic energy based on the surfaces they are poured.
  • Gaseous particles have the highest rate of kinetic energy.

Properties of Matter

The matter has both physical and chemical properties. The characteristics that do not affect the chemical composition and chemical properties of matter like colour, odour, and volume are known as physical properties. Also, the physical properties of matter do not result in the formation of new substances. Chemical properties of matter are characterised by a change in the chemical composition of the substance and in some cases, they also result in the formation of new substances. For instance, if we place an iron nail (Ferrous) in Water (H2O) for a significant period, we can observe the formation of rust (Ferrous Oxide) on the nail. The physical properties of matter are mostly quantitative (measurement of mass, volume, density, and refractive index). But the chemical properties of matter are mostly qualitative (they deal with things like odour, colour, taste, change in state, and production of new substances). 

Classification of Matter

The matter is classified at both, microscopic and macroscopic levels. At the microscopic level, we distinguish matter as solids, liquids, gases, plasma, and the Bose-Einstein Condensate. Looking at matter at a macroscopic level would enable us to classify matter as pure substances and mixtures. This classification is based on the chemical composition of matter. Pure substances are subclassified as elements and compounds. An element is basically the primary matter present in the substance. Examples of elements are Nitrogen, Oxygen, Hydrogen, Carbon, among others. Compounds are two or more elements mixed, by means of chemical bonds. Examples of compounds are Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Water (H2O). Moving on, mixtures are aggregates of more than one type of pure substance. An example of a mixture might be coffee (mixture of milk, coffee decoction, and sugar). Based on the composition of the substances, mixtures are further classified as homogeneous (uniform composition) and heterogeneous (non-uniform composition) mixtures. 


The matter is anything that has mass and occupies space. It is composed of tiny particles called atoms. It is classified into 5 different (3 mainly used) states, based on its physical appearance and physical properties. The matter has different physical and chemical properties like shape, volume, taste, odour, and smell. Based on the chemical composition, matter can be further explored as pure substances and mixtures.