Science: Matter in Our Surroundings: Particulate Nature of Matter (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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What is a Matter?

  • Anything which occupies space and has mass is matter. Surrounding can be anything that is around us like air, clouds, buildings, water bodies, etc. These all are surroundings. All solids, liquids and gases around us are made of matter. for example, a book, a car, a letter, a handset, a piece of wood, tree, a bag etc. A substance is a pure kind of matter having only one kind of constituent particle (atom or molecule) . Think and add a few more examples from your day to day life. Water, iron, gold, copper, aluminum and oxygen are examples of substances.
  • All substances are matter but all forms of matter are not substances.

Particulate Nature of Matter

All matter is composed of very tiny particles. In other words, the matter has particulate nature. The smallest indivisible particles of matter were given the name “atom” from the Greek word “Atomos” for “indivisible” . matter is continuous and its piece of any size can be broken or subdivided into smaller pieces.

Classification of Matter

Classification of Matter
  • by the physical state of matter as a solid, liquid, or gas, and
  • by the chemical composition of matter as an element, compound or mixture.

Physical Classification

It is done on the basis of Physical Properties, i.e.. the properties that we can see like rigidity, colour etc. Water exists in all the three states namely steam or water vapour (gas) , water at room temperature (liquid) and ice (solid) . This is the only substance which exists naturally in all the three states. Forces holding molecules together are called intermolecular forces.


  • A solid has definite size and shape which do not change on their own .
  • A piece of wood, a stone, a pencil, a pen, and a computer all are examples of solids.
  • In solids the constituent particles are present very close to each other.
  • The intermolecular forces operating between the constituent particles are very strong and they are capable of keeping the molecules in fixed positions.


  • A liquid has a definite volume e. g. Water, Mustard oil and kerosene oil.
  • Liquid does not have a definite shape. It takes the shape of its container.
  • The intermolecular forces in liquids are weaker than solids but stronger than gases. In liquids the constituent particles do not occupy fixed position as in solids.
  • In liquids the constituent particles do not occupy fixed position.


  • The wind is moving air and is a mixture of many gases like oxygen, nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide and others.
  • A gas occupies the entire volume of the container irrespective of its size.
  • In gases, molecules move freely because the intermolecular forces are very weak.
  • When temperature increases, volume of the gas also increases. For example, when a closed container is heated it blasts due to rapid increase in volume.
  • Schematic representation of distribution of molecules in solid, liquid and gas.
Solid, Liquid and Gas
The Wind is Moving Air and is a Mixture of Many Gases
State of matterVolumeDensityShapeFluidityCompressibility
SolidHas fixed volumeHighHas definite shapeDoes not flowNegligible
LiquidHas fixed volumeLower as compared to solidHas no Definite shape. It takes the shape of container.Flows smoothlyVery small
GasHas no fixed volumeLowHas no definite shape.Flows SmoothlyHighly compressible

Effect of Temperature and Pressure on States of Matter

  • A pure solid turns to liquid at a fixed temperature, This particular temperature is called melting point.
  • when the liquid cools down, it converts into solid at a particular temperature. This temperature is called freezing point of that particular liquid substance.
  • The temperature at which a liquid boils and is converted into a gas is boiling point of the liquid.
Effect of Temperature

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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