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What are the properties of matter? with examples

We explain that what are the properties of matter? With examples. The properties of matter are those distinctive characteristics that allow it to be recognized and distinguished from what is not considered matter. There is an adequate description of matter through its properties. properties of matter

As matter takes the most diverse forms, it has many properties and to study them they are grouped into two categories, which are: general properties of matter and specific properties of matter.

properties of matter
properties of matter

General properties are characteristics that all matter has. This includes dimensions, volume , mass, and temperature: if something has mass and volume, it is sure to be matter. But this is not enough to know what kind of matter it is.

For this, it is necessary to know the specific properties, which are very particular characteristics of substances and help to distinguish between the various types of matter. These include color, hardness, density , conductivity, and many others.

General properties of matter

The general properties are common to all substances, so they do not allow the distinction between them, but they are still important. Among the main ones are:

Mass properties of matter

properties of matter: Mass

It represents the amount of matter that a given sample of substance contains and is the measure of inertia. Inertia is a fundamental property of matter, which can be described as its resistance to changing its motion.

To introduce a variation in the movement of a very massive object, a greater force must be applied than if it is a light object. So, bodies resist changes in motion and mass is the measure of this resistance.

  • In the International System (SI), mass is measured in kilograms and is measured with a balance.

Weight properties of matter

properties of matter: Weight

The weight is often confused with mass, but in reality is a force: that Earth exerts on any object near its surface. Weight and mass, although closely related, are not the same, since the weight of the same object is different on Earth than on the Moon.

This is because the weight depends on the gravity exerted by the celestial body and the lunar gravity is much less than the terrestrial one. On the other hand, on Jupiter the same object would weigh much more than on Earth, since the giant planet’s gravity is greater than that of Earth

The weight of a body is calculated using the formula:

W = mg

Where P is the weight, m ​​is the mass and g the value of the acceleration due to gravity. It is always directed vertically towards the earth’s surface. properties of matter

  • The SI unit for weight is the newton , abbreviated N.

Volume properties of matter

The mass occupies a space, the measure of which is the volume.

If an object has a regular geometric shape, such as a cube for example, it is possible to easily calculate its volume by knowing its dimensions. On the other hand, for irregular objects it is necessary to resort to indirect methods, for example immersing them in water and measuring the volume of liquid displaced.

  • In SI units, volume is measured in cubic meters : m 3 .


Equivalences between Kelvin, Celsius and Fahrenheit
Equivalences between Kelvin, Celsius and Fahrenheit

Temperature is a measure of the internal energy of objects. A substance is made up of atoms and molecules with their own vibrational movement and the greater this movement, the more temperature the body has.

  • The SI unit of temperature is the kelvin , which is abbreviated K. Other widely used units are degrees Celsius and degrees Fahrenheit.


properties of matter: Elasticity

It is possible to deform an object by applying forces. The object can return to its original dimensions once it disappears, but other times the deformation is permanent, especially if the force was great.

Matter has elasticity, a measure of the ability of substances to return to their original state after being deformed. While the force acts, attractions and repulsions appear between the molecules, but when it disappears, they return to the previous state and the object returns to its original dimensions.

If the external forces are not very large, the elasticity of an object is calculated using Hooke’s law :

E = Y.ℓ

Where E is the stress, which is measured in units of newtons / square meter, ℓ is the strain or quotient between the variation in length and the total length, and Y is a constant that depends on the material, known as Young’s modulus.

Young’s modulus indicates the force that must be applied to deform the object and each material has a characteristic value within a certain temperature range.


It is the quality that an object or body has of dividing itself into other parts.


It is the property that objects or bodies have to remain in their state of rest.


It is the amount of empty spaces that exist in an object or body.

Specific properties of matter

Specific properties are the set of characteristics of a substance, thanks to which it is distinguished from others. These include those that are perceived with the senses, such as color, odor, and texture, and others that are measured, including density, electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, hardness, and many others.



It is the quotient between mass and volume, and in SI units it is measured in kg / m 3 . In a certain range of temperatures, the density of a substance is the same, regardless of the size of the sample.

Density is a distinctive property, for example, oil and wood are less dense than water, but steel, lead, and metals have a higher density.

Gases, on the other hand, are less dense than liquids and solids, as their molecules are more detached from each other, which allows them greater freedom of movement.

Electrical and thermal conductivity

Thermal conduction
Thermal conduction

It is the property that describes the facility of the material to transport electrical current or heat. In the first case we speak of electrical conductivity, in the second, of thermal conductivity.

Metals are good conductors of electricity and heat because they have free electrons capable of moving through the material.

  • The SI unit for electrical conductivity is siemens / meter , while thermal conductivity is measured in watts / kelvin.meter .



In a fluid, viscosity measures the degree of internal friction between molecules, which opposes the fluid flowing. It depends on the molecular attraction: as this increases, so does the viscosity.

A high viscosity does not depend on density, for example motor oil is more viscous than water, but less dense than water.

  • In SI units, viscosity is measured in Pa.s , where Pa is short for pascal , which in turn is the unit for pressure.

Melting point

It is the temperature at which a substance changes from a solid to a liquid state . For example, the melting temperature of copper is 1085ºC properties of matter

Boiling point

It is the temperature at which a substance changes from liquid to gaseous. For example, the boiling temperature of water is 100ºC.


It is the opposition presented by the materials to be scratched. Diamond is the hardest known natural substance, with a hardness of 10 on the Mohs scale, while talc is the least hard of all, with a hardness of 1 on the same scale.

Malleability properties of matter

This property describes the ease of a material to be laminated. It refers mostly to metals such as gold, the most malleable of all, followed by aluminum, lead, silver, copper, and more. properties of matter

Solubility properties of matter

It refers to the ability of a substance to dissolve in a liquid. Most of the substances dissolve in water, but not all. For example, oil-based paint has specific solvents, such as acetone. properties of matter

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