# Liquid state of matter: Characteristics of liquids

### Liquid state of matter:

Liquids are one of the states of matter alongside solids, gases and plasma. The main difference between each of these states of matter emanates from the nature of their particles.

You can think of a particle as the smallest part that makes up anything. For instance, by grinding sugar cubes into a fineness appearance, we may expose each of its constituent particles.

In another instance; whenever we cook (let us say a soup or stew), we may expose the particles of a maggi cube by grinding before its addition into our soup or stew. The reason why we do this is to separate and expose the constituent particles that make up the maggi cube so they can easily dissolve into our soup.

Regarding the above instances, if you can take out a single (smallest) particle from the grinded sugar, then, such sugar particle may be considered as an atom of the sugar.

Similarly, each of the smallest (single) particle that dissolves into the soup make up the atoms of the maggi.

An atom is defined as the smallest part (or particle) of a substance that can take part in a chemical reaction.

An understanding on the concept of matter, atoms and particles will prove useful regarding the states of matter.

Meanwhile, the terms atom and particle will be used interchangeable in this article in order to help you better understand liquids as a state of matter.

Liquids have spaces between their atoms thus its particles can exhibit some degree of movement. In simple terms, we can say that the particles of a liquid are loosely packed together.

The image below shows the loosely arranged particles (atoms) in a liquids:

Spaces are present between the liquid particles because their atoms are held by a weak force. These spaces are large enough to make the atoms move or flow. As a result, you can put your finger through a liquid and pull it out again.

Meanwhile, understand that a liquid cannot be handed to another person without the help of a container, else, it pours off. This is so because their atoms are loosely packed together. In this regard, a liquid will therefore always assume the shape of its container.

Even in lakes and rivers, the bank, river bed (or bottom) and the shore forms its container or boundary.

The density of liquids will also depend on the atoms they are composed of. For instance, 10 liters of water will not weigh the same as 10 liters of red oil since their constituent atoms are different. In the case of water (H2O), its constituent atoms are hydrogen and oxygen respectively.

The particles that make up a liquid can still be compressed such that they become closer to themselves. The refrigerator is an example of a technology that compresses liquid particles. In fact, this is how water is transformed into ice.

### Characteristics of liquids

1. They assume the shape of the container.
2. Their particles are loosely packed together, hence they can be slightly compressed.
3. Their particle possesses low energy for movement and rotational motion, hence they can flow to an extent.
4. They have fixed volume but no fixed shape. Liquids will generally assume the shape of their containers.
5. Under normal conditions, they have boiling points above room temperatures.
You can read on the concepts of heat and temperature here.

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