Classification of Matter: Definition, Types, and Examples

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What is Matter?

When we study the term chemistry, it is often described as the state of matter. The concept of matter includes substances, compounds, elements, mixtures etc.

The matter shows some of the properties such as smell, colour etc. The substances can undergo changes which commonly include physical and chemical properties.

Physical properties commonly include shape, size, colour, and mass. Chemical properties include flammability.

Definition of Matter

The definitions of the following terms such as;

Matter: The term matter is commonly defined as anything that has mass and occupies space. The matter is further classified as solid, liquid and gas.

Substance: It is defined as the matter which is homogenous and of which all parts are alike. The substance can be homogenous and heterogenous.

Elements: The elements are pure substances that cannot be decomposed into simpler substances by chemical means. Some of the examples include gold, sulphur and iron.

Compounds: The compounds are pure substances that are composed of two or more elements.

Mixture: This is defined as a matter which consists of two or more substances mixed. A mixture can be homogenous or heterogeneous.

Homogenous mixtures are those that are not seen by the naked eye for example salt dissolves in water whereas heterogeneous mixtures are those that can be seen by the naked eye, for example, several different components.

Classification of Matter

The matter is classified as mixtures and substances. The mixture is further classified as homogenous and heterogeneous. The substances are further classified as elements and compounds.

Figure below will give the relationship between the concepts.

Classification of Matter- Definition, Types, and Examples 1

A mixture is defined as a material that is made up of two or more different substances that are mixed but not combined chemically. An example of a mixture is sand and water.

The mixture is further classified into two parts and which are homogenous and heterogeneous.

I. Homogenous Mixture

The homogenous mixture is defined as a mixture of two or more substances where the different components cannot be visually distinguished.

If we take an example of a homogenous mixture then it would be a solution in sports drinks, consisting of water, sugar, colouring, flavouring, and electrolytes mixed uniformly.

Every sip of soft drink tastes the same because each sip contains the same amount of substances as mentioned above.

There are a few other examples of homogenous mixture that will include air, maple syrup. gasoline and solution of salt in water.

II. Heterogeneous Mixture

The heterogeneous mixture is defined as a mixture with a varying composition . The example includes Italian dressing.

The composition of Italian dressing can vary because it may be prepared by mixing different amounts of oil, vinegar, and herbs.

It is not uniform throughout the mixture—one drop may be mostly vinegar, whereas a different drop may be mostly oil or herbs because the oil and vinegar isolate and the herbs settle.


As per the definition in chemistry, substances are a form of matter that has a constant chemical composition and characteristic properties. The separation of components will only be possible when there is a breaking of chemical bonds.

The chemical substances can be solid, liquid or gas. The change in temperature or pressure can cause substances to shift between the different states of matter.

The substances are often called as pure as it separates them from the term mixture. An example of a substance is pure distilled water as it has always the same properties and the same ratio of hydrogen to oxygen.

The substances are further divided into two parts and that are elements and compounds.


The elements can be defined as a pure substance that consists of only one type of atom. The elements are divided into metals, metalloids and non-metals.

If we take a look at the periodic table in below Figure, the left side of the periodic table consists of metals that are often conductive to electricity, malleable, shiny and sometimes magnetic.

Periodic Table With Atomic Mass -Atomic Number- Definition, Examples, and Facts 1 Atomic Number- Definition, Examples, and Facts 2

Examples of metals are aluminium, iron, copper etc. The right side of the periodic table consists of non-metals. The characteristic of non-metals includes not conductivity, not malleable, dull and not magnetic. The examples include carbon and oxygen.

As per the data of November 2011, 118 elements have been identified and out of 118, only 98 are known to occur naturally on the earth.

The most abundant elements on the earth are Hydrogen and Helium. All the known chemical matter is composed of these elements. The chemical matter constitute nearly about 15% of the matter in universe.


The chemical compounds have a unique and defined structure a fixed ratio of atoms held together in a defined spatial arrangement by chemical bonds.

The few characteristics of chemical compounds can be that the molecular compounds are held together by covalent bonds.

Another characteristic is the salts are held together by ionic bonds or by metallic bonds and the complexes can also be held together by coordinate covalent bonds.

Pure chemical elements are not called chemical compounds even if they consist of diatomic or polyatomic molecules.

Matter Citations


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