States of Matter

There are three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. In this post we will examine these different states and their specific characteristics.


Particles in a solid maintain a fixed volume and shape; they are not easily compressible because there is not much free space between the particles and solids do not flow because the particles which are fixed cannot move or slide past each other; they vibrate and jiggle; and there is minimal expansion when heated. One example of a solid is the computer screen you are staring at right now as you read this post.



Particles of a liquid assume the shape of the container they are placed in, this is because the particles can move, vibrate and slide past each other which makes it easier to accommodate whatever shape is present. The movement of particles past each other also allows for the flowing property of a liquid. An example of a well known liquid is water. There is moderate expansion of water particles on heating.



Gases also take the shape of the container that they are in; they are compressible and they flow quite easily. Particles in a gas move freely at high speeds, and there is great expansion of gas particles on heating. An example of a gas is water vapour and chlorine at room temperature.


All matter can be described as a solid liquid or a gas. For each of the states mentioned there are corresponding physical and chemical properties. The physical properties are the ones mentioned above that have to do with the shape, volume, ability to flow, whether or not it can be compressed and volume change with heating. The chemical properties of these particles are the properties observed then there is interaction with other chemicals. For example, iron, a solid, rusts when the air is moist or is in contact with water for an extended period of time.

It is essential for you to be able to determine the density of the different states of matter. Watch the video below and review your notes to get started!

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