Metals, Non-metals, and Semi-metals

Core Concepts

In this tutorial, you will learn about the properties of metals, non-metals, and semi-metals as well as their examples.

Topics Covered in Other Articles


Ductility – the ability to be drawn into wires

Malleability – the ability to be hammered into thin sheets

Luster – the quality of reflecting light from the surface and can be polished

Introduction to Metals, Semi-metals, and Non-metals

An element is a substance that cannot be broken down into any other substance. In other words, an element is the simplest form of matter. Elements are further classified into metals, non-metals, and semi-metals.


Metals are elements that form positive ions by losing electrons during chemical reactions, except hydrogen. Thus, they are electropositive elements with low ionization energies. Most metals share the properties of being shiny, very dense, and having high melting points. Furthermore, they are ductile, malleable, and lustrous. Metals are also good conductors of heat and electricity. All metals are solids at room temperature, except mercury which is a liquid.

Examples of Metals

  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Silver
  • Mercury
  • Lead
  • Aluminum


Non-metals are elements that form negative ions by gaining electrons during chemical reactions. Thus, they are electronegative elements with high ionization energies. In general, non-metals are brittle, dull, and poor conductors of heat and electricity. They tend to have lower melting points than metals. Most of non-metals exist in two of the three states of matter at room temperature: gases and solids, except bromine, which exists as a liquid.

Examples of Non-metals

Semi-metals (Metalloids)

Semi-metals, also known as metalloids, have properties of both metals and non-metals. Metalloids can be shiny or dull. They are typically semi-conductors. Semi-conductors are capable of conducting electricity better than insulator, but not as well as conductors.

Some semi-metals like selenium and arsenic can be toxic. A selenium speciation machine can measure the amount of selenium present.

Examples of Semi-metals

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