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What is an element and what are its classification ?

An element is a substance which cannot be split up into two or more simpler substances by any physical or chemical means. It is the simplest form of matter. For example, copper, iron, gold, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine and mercury etc. are elements. At present, more than 106 elements are known.

  • Hydrogen is an element because it cannot be split up into two or more simpler substances by any physical or chemical method.
  • Water is not an element because it can be split up into two simpler substances (hydrogen and oxygen) by the passage of an electric current through it.
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Classification of elements

There are two types of elements—metals and nonmetals.

Metals :

Metals are good conductors of heat and electricity. They are malleable and ductile in the solid state. Examples of metals are sodium, Zinc, copper, silver, gold, iron, aluminium, etc.

Nonmetals :

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Non metals are bad conductors of heat and electricity. They are soft brittle in the solid state. Examples of nonmetals are hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus, etc.

Division of elements based on their physical states

Liquid elements :

Liquid elements are those which exist as liquids. Examples are mercury and bromine. Mercury is the only metal which is liquid at room temperature. Similarly, bromine is the only nonmetal which is liquid at room temperature.

Gaseous elements :

Gaseous elements are those which exist as gases. Examples are hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, etc.

Solid elements :

Solid elements are those which exist as solids. Most of the elements exist as solids. Examples are sodium, copper, iron, gold, carbon, sulphur, etc.

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