# 2.3.1 Scalars & Vectors

### Scalars & Vectors

• A scalar is a quantity which only has a magnitude (size)
• A vector is a quantity which has both a magnitude and a direction
• For example, if a person goes on a hike in the woods to a location which is a couple of miles from their starting point
• As the crow flies, their displacement will only be a few miles but the distance they walked will be much longer Displacement is a vector while distance is a scalar quantity

• Distance is a scalar quantity because it describes how an object has travelled overall, but not the direction it has travelled in
• Displacement is a vector quantity because it describes how far an object is from where it started and in what direction
• Some common scalar and vector quantities are shown in the table below:

Scalars and Vectors Table #### Exam Tip

Do you have trouble figuring out if a quantity is a vector or a scalar? Just think – can this quantity have a minus sign? For example – can you have negative energy? No. Can you have negative displacement? Yes!

Close Close

# ## Download all our Revision Notes as PDFs

Try a Free Sample of our revision notes as a printable PDF.

Already a member?