Nature of Matter



When we look around us, we see many things and many of us do not know the fact that everything is made up of matter. The air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil we live in, are all different forms of matter. But what exactly is the matter? Matter is the mass of an object. Mass is the quantity of matter that a given object holds. When you compare the mass of a golf ball and that of the table-tennis ball, you realize that the golf-ball weighs more than the table-tennis ball. Therefore, the golf-ball contains more matter.  In general, matter is anything that occupies a certain space, has some shape and mass. Everything that we see, and feel fall under the various types of matter. For example, snacks, drinks,  water, food, table, pen, table, chair, TV, etc.   Matter includes both living and dead( unanimous).On the other hand, matters like heat, sound, light, and electricity cannot be classified under the basic types of matter because these entities have no particular shape and mass. They can only be felt but cannot fit into a physical space directly. 


Nature of Matter

Matter is a broad term frequently used in the chemistry. Each particle, atom, or an element does contain some form of a matter. Matter can range from a tiny atom to the universe as a whole. Some of the forms of matter are visible to naked eyes but some do not. The characteristics of matter are;

  1. Often the matter exists in the 3 basic forms solid, liquid, gas, however, there are extraordinary forms such as plasma.

  2. Every atom has protons, neutrons, electrons and a nucleus. The nucleus is the centre of an atom.

  3. Everything that we can see through our eyes physically is a matter.

  4. Not all forms of energy are matter. For example, heat, sound, and electricity.

  5. What we see, hear, feel, touch or taste is matter.

  6. Matter can be found alone or in combination with many matters. 

  7. Physical and chemical properties of one type of matter vary with other types of matter, for example, water and a ball does vary in their atomic mass, shape, mass, etc.

  8. Atoms vary according to the type of matter


Classification of matter

Depending upon the composition and class of substance, the matter can be classified into two distinct groups namely physical and chemical. The following chart depicts the basic classification of matter



Physical classification of matter 

Physical classification of the matter is based upon the physical nature of objects. Some of the physical properties on which we classify the matter are the how hard a solid is I,e hardness, liquidity- how watery is the substance and the force that we feel- for gases. A matter is not an absolute in its form but it can change its form under certain conditions. For example, if you heat a liquid it turns into a gas and if you cool down a gas it enters the liquid form, similarly storing a liquid in the refrigeration forms a solid - ice. So, the matter is interchangeable in it`s from. The following illustration provides a brief outline of the physical classification of matter.


Chemical classification of matter

Chemical classification of matter depends mainly on the chemical composition of the substance. These include; Pure substances and Mixtures. Pure substances have a  fixed composition and they are grouped as elements or compounds.

Pure substances

1. Elements

An element is a pure substance that cannot be split into a simpler form by any chemical method. Elements comprise single particles which is either an atom or molecule. It should be noted that an element is composed of similar atoms. Examples of elements include Magnesium (mg), Calcium (Ca), Copper (Cu), Aluminum (Al), etc.

2. Compounds

When two or more elements are chemically combined, they form a pure substance known as the compound. Examples of compounds include; Alkane, calcium chloride, zinc carbonate, etc.



 Mixtures are formed by placing together two or more substances that retain both their chemical and physical properties. Air and crude oil are good examples of mixtures. Mixtures can be grouped into 2 categories, homogenous solutions and heterogenous solutions  

1. Homogenous solutions –these are mixtures that are uniformly distributed and contain similar substances.

2. Heterogeneous mixtures – are the mixtures that contain different substances and are not uniformly distributed. Examples include; sugar and sand, iron filings and sulfur. In the laboratory, fractional distillation, paper chromatography, and the simple distillation are commonly used as physical methods to separate mixtures.





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