Difference Between Atoms and Elements

Atoms vs Elements

Anything that we see and feel around us is called matter. This matter, consisting of both human beings and animals, along with plants and non living things such as water and rocks, is made up of very small particles that are considered to be building blocks of a matter.

All matter, whether solid, liquid or gas, is made up of very small particles called atoms and this principle applies to both living as well as non living things. The word atom comes from the Greek Atomos which means indivisible. Elements are substances that are pure and consist of atoms of a single type only such as iron, copper, oxygen, aluminum etc. Why elements are called pure is that they cannot be broken into simpler substances. If you take a piece of gold and bet it into pieces, all pieces are still pieces of gold, and you can go on until you reach to the level of atoms. Each atom of gold is still gold, which implies that it still retains all the basic properties of gold. If however, you break any of the atoms of gold, what you will get are subatomic particles like electrons, protons and neutrons that are not gold.

Thus it is clear that an atom is the smallest amount of an element beyond which it is not possible to break an element. We know about the structure of an atom that it is made up of electrons, protons and neutrons. It has a nucleus containing protons and neutrons while electrons revolve in orbits surrounding this nucleus. The knowledge of atom came earlier than elements. The world knew about the word element when the periodic table theory was brought to light and elements were placed in this table based upon their atomic numbers.

In brief:

• All matter is made up of tiny particles called atoms.

• Elements are pure substances that are made up of a single type of atoms

• Every single atom of an element retains the properties of that element, and is the smallest unit of that element having same properties