Chemistry » Liquids and Solids » Properties of Liquids

Summarizing Properties of Liquids

Key Concepts and Summary

The intermolecular forces between molecules in the liquid state vary depending upon their chemical identities and result in corresponding variations in various physical properties. Cohesive forces between like molecules are responsible for a liquid’s viscosity (resistance to flow) and surface tension (elasticity of a liquid surface). Adhesive forces between the molecules of a liquid and different molecules composing a surface in contact with the liquid are responsible for phenomena such as surface wetting and capillary rise.

Key Equations

  • \(h=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{2T\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{cos}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\theta }{r\rho g}\)


adhesive force

force of attraction between molecules of different chemical identities

capillary action

flow of liquid within a porous material due to the attraction of the liquid molecules to the surface of the material and to other liquid molecules

cohesive force

force of attraction between identical molecules

surface tension

energy required to increase the area, or length, of a liquid surface by a given amount


measure of a liquid’s resistance to flow

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