Difference Between Elements and Atoms

When you are studying chemistry, terms like elements and atoms are the most commonly used terminologies amongst others. However, as the subject gets more advance, the science behind the subject usually gets complex. And, these terms like atom and element can easily be confused. Thus, it is important to understand the difference between elements and atoms clearly.

Before getting into the major differences, let’s have a look at what these terms mean. So, an element is basically a pure or raw chemical substance that consists of one or a certain type of atom. An element is categorized based on its atomic number. They have been classified and grouped as metal, metalloids and nonmetals in the periodic table. Talking about atoms, it can be considered as the smallest amount of an element. These are the most simplest units of all matter. Meanwhile, an atom has its own unique name, mass and size.

Difference between Elements and Atoms

We already have some idea now that all substances are made up of elements and atoms. Here, will learn some of the major differences between the two. You can find the differences between elements and atoms below.

Difference between Elements and Atoms



An element is the simplest form of a substance. Generally, it cannot be simplified or broken down further into smaller particles.

An atom is the part of an element.

A particular element is composed of only one type of atom.

Atoms are further composed of subatomic particles called electrons, protons and neutrons.

Elements can combine with each other to form molecules via chemical reaction.

Atoms can also combine to form molecules but if all bound atoms are of similar type elements are formed.

Elements are bigger and heavier in size and mass.

Atoms are very tiny particles and they cannot be seen through a microscope.

There are a total of 118 elements.

There are 92 different kinds of atoms in nature.

The term element is used often when talking about the periodic table, and chemistry in general.

Atom is used more in physics while in chemistry it is often mentioned when talking about atomic number or mass.

These are some of the differences between elements and atoms To know more about important differences between other chemistry topics you can keep visiting BYJU’s or download our app for interesting content and learning experience.

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