What are the states of matter?

Solids, liquids and gases are called the three states of matter.


The properties of solids include:

  • Solids stay in one place and can be held.
  • Solids keep their shape. They do not flow like liquids.
  • Solids always take up the same amount of space. They do not spread out like gases.
  • Solids can be cut or shaped.
  • Even though they can be poured, sugar, salt and flour are all solids. Each particle of salt, for example, keeps the same shape and volume.
Circle character standing with a football beside a block of ice
Examples of solids include ice, wood and sand.


The properties of liquids include:

  • Liquids can flow or be poured easily. They are not easy to hold.
  • Liquids change their shape depending on the container they are in.
  • Even when liquids change their shape, they always take up the same amount of space. Their volume stays the same.
Square character standing with a glass of water and jar of honey.
Examples of liquids include water, honey and milk.


The properties of gases include:

  • Gases are often invisible.
  • Gases do not have a fixed shape. They spread out and change their shape and volume to fill up whatever container they are in.
  • Gases can be squashed.
Triangle character standing with a steam coming from a kettle
Examples of gases include steam, helium and oxygen.