Meaning of Liquid State

What is Liquid State:

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, along with the solid, gaseous, plasma and condensed states of Bose-Einstein or BE.

The liquid state can be considered intermediate between the solid and the gaseous one. Solids have a definite shape and volume. Gases do not have a delimited shape or volume. In contrast, liquids are formless like gases, but have constant volume, just like solids.

This is a consequence of the distribution and movement of the particles. With respect to solids, the particles of liquids are more distant from each other and have greater mobility. With respect to gases, the distance between the particles is smaller and their mobility is more limited.

Some examples of the liquid state are as follows:

  • Water (seas, rivers, rain, etc.),
  • Body fluids (saliva, blood, amniotic fluid, urine, breast milk).
  • Plant sap,
  • Mercury,
  • Came,
  • Oils,
  • Vinegar,
  • Syrups,
  • Formol,
  • Gasoline.

These examples include water, which is the only resource naturally available in liquid, solid and gaseous states. Water is liquid as long as the temperature oscillates between 0 and 100 ºC. When the temperature is higher than 100ºC, the water turns into gas. When the temperature is below 0ºC, it freezes.

Characteristics of the liquid state

Liquids have a set of very particular characteristics that distinguish them from gases and solids. Among them, we can name the following.

  • Constant volume. Liquids have a constant mass. This means that they always occupy the same space.
  • Indeterminate or variable form. At rest, liquids take the shape of the container where they are. In free fall, they acquire a spherical shape (for example, drops).
  • Attraction between particles. There is attraction between the particles of liquids. This is is less than in solids.
  • Dynamism between particles. Particles in liquids are always in motion. This movement is greater with respect to solids and less with respect to gaseous ones.

Properties of the liquid state

The properties of the liquid state 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 more viscous the liquid, 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, 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 particles of the liquids is greater than the cohesion force of the particles of the solids.

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 the surface of a liquid to act as a very delicate elastic membrane that resists penetration by objects. This force arises when the particles of the liquid come into contact with a gas.

For example, surface tension can be perceived when a leaf floats on a lake or when an insect walks on the 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.

It may interest you:

  • States of the material.
  • Properties of matter.

Changes in the state of liquids

Changes in the aggregation state of matter.

When we change temperature or pressure, almost all matter can be transformed into a liquid state, and vice versa. Changes of matter that involve the liquid state are called evaporation, solidification, condensation, and melting or melting.

Evaporation: it is the passage from the liquid to the gaseous state. It occurs when a liquid increases its temperature until it reaches its boiling point. Then, the interaction between the particles is broken, and these separate and release, transforming into gas. For example, the steam in a saucepan over the fire.

Solidification: it is the transition from a liquid to a solid state. It occurs when the liquid is exposed to a drop in temperature until it reaches a “freezing point”. At this point, the particles are so bound together that there is no movement between them, which forms the solid mass. For example, the transformation of water into ice.

Condensation: it is the passage from the gaseous state to the liquid. It occurs when a gas reaches a cooling level called "dew point" due to changes in temperature and pressure. For example, rain, a product of the condensation of water vapor (clouds).

Fusion or melting: it is the passage from the solid state to the liquid state. It occurs when the solid is subjected to high temperatures, which causes the particles to move more easily. For example, the melting of ice in water.

It may interest you:

  • Solid state.
  • Gaseous state.

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