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What is the Liquid State? – Physical Characteristics, and More

What is the Liquid State?

A liquid state (or simply liquid) is called a state of matter that is considered intermediate between the solid and gaseous states.

Its particles are close enough to preserve a minimum cohesion while at the same time being sufficiently dispersed to allow fluidity and shape-shifting.

The particles of a liquid compound are further apart than those of a solid combination but closer together than a gaseous mixture. For this reason, stable compounds are rigid, and gases are dispersed.

For a solid to become a liquid, it is necessary to supply it with heat energy until fusion occurs. On the other hand, for gas to become a liquid, it must subtract heat energy until condensation occurs.

Many compounds remain in a liquid state at normal temperature (25 ⁰C). An example of this is water. But by lowering their temperature by removing heat, they can become solid by freezing or solidification. On the other hand, by increasing their temperature by supplying heat, they can become gases by evaporation.

Physical Characteristics of the Liquid State

liquid state

Matter in a liquid state has the following fundamental physical characteristics:


  • Liquids do not have a definite shape, so they acquire that of the container they contain.
  • A glass of water will have the form of a mirror, but a falling drop of water will have a hemispherical shape due to the surface tension of this liquid and gravity.


  • It is a unique characteristic of liquids and gases, which allows them to pass spontaneously from one container to another.
  • This can occur through narrow channels or in a variable shape since liquid particles, being shapeless, can slip, move and slide.


  • The viscosity of liquids is their resistance to flow and deformation. This occurs due to its particles’ internal forces, whose action slows its deformation when poured or dropped.
  • Thus, more viscous liquids (such as oil or tar) flow slowly as their particles adhere more to each other. In contrast, low-viscosity juices (such as water and alcohol ) flow rapidly.


  • Liquids can stick to surfaces. An example of this is the droplets that remain on objects after being immersed in a liquid.

Surface Tension

  • It is a property of the surface of liquids. It consists of the resistance that drinks have to increase their surface area per unit area. This explains why some drinks take certain shapes, such as the spherical shape of water droplets.
  • Due to surface tension, liquids have resistance to the penetration of objects up to a certain margin, as if it were an elastic layer.
  • For this reason, some insects “walk” on the water and fallen leaves of the trees remain on it without sinking. Surface tension is directly linked to density.


  • It is the amount of mass that is in a certain volume of a substance. Density and cohesion forces (forces that hold the particles of solids and liquids together) are closely related.
  • Cohesion is lower in drinks than in solids, but it still allows them to occupy a certain volume in space.

Examples of Liquid State

liquid state

Some examples of matter in a liquid state are:


  • The most common substance on our planet and the universal solvent of known matter. It is the liquid par excellence at room temperature. There may be many dissolved substances in it, but its liquidity preserve.

The Mercury

  • The only metal that at room temperature remains liquid, forming perfect shiny silver droplets.

The Urine

  • Urine is a yellowish liquid with a high urea and ammonia content, in which toxic waste and metabolic waste expel from the body.


  • It is a nutritious substance that female mammals secrete through the mammary glands—it a liquid colour white and rich in fat.


  • It is one of the most popular derivatives of oil. It is a substance rich in hydrocarbons and highly explosive, making it input for motors and other devices that generate movement or electricity.

Sulfuric Acid

  • It a type of acid commonly used in laboratories. It has a very high corrosivity level and can be very harmful in contact with living organic matter.

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Properties of the Liquid State

The liquid state properties are fluidity, viscosity, adhesion, density, surface tension, and capillarity.


  • Liquids have the property of being fluid. This means that they take advantage of any leak to continue their displacement.
  • For example, if the holding container has cracks or if the surface is not compact (such as dirt), the liquid leaks out.


  • Viscosity is the resistance of liquids to deformation and flowability. The denser the fluid, the slower its movement, which means that its fluidity is less.
  • For example, honey is a liquid with a higher degree of viscosity than water.


  • Glass with water and oil. Oil floats on water due to its lower density.
  • Density refers to the amount of mass in a given volume of liquid. The more compact the particles are, the higher the density.
  • For example, water is denser than oil. This is why oil floats on water, despite being more viscous.


  • Adhesion or adherence is the property that liquids have to adhere to solid surfaces. This is because the adhesion force between the liquid particles is greater than the solid particles’ cohesion force.
  • For example, ink stains a sheet of paper due to the property of adhesion. Another example is when water sticks to a glass surface.

Surface Tension

  • Surface tension allows a liquid’s surface to act as a very delicate elastic membrane, which resists objects’ penetration. This force arises when the particles of the liquid come into contact with a gas.
  • For example, surface tension can perceive when a leaf floats on a lake or when an insect walks on water’s surface without sinking.


  • The raw sap of plants moves upward due to capillarity.
  • Capillarity is the ability of a liquid to move up or down within a capillary tube. This property depends at the same time on the surface tension.
  • For example, the raw sap of plants, whose circulation is upward.


The liquid state is a state in which matter appears as a fluid substance with volume but without a definite shape. Water is the most common example of this state.

It is one of the five states of aggregation of matter and the solid, gaseous, plasma and condensed states of Bose-Einstein or BE.

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