AQA GCSE Chemistry

Revision Notes

2.2.3 State Symbols

Solid, Liquid, Gas & Aqueous

  • State symbols are written after each formula in chemical equations to show which physical state each substance is in
  • Brackets are used and they are not usually subscripted although you may come across them written in this way
  • Aqueous should remind you of the word ‘aqua’ and means the substance is dissolved in water
    • In other words it is a solution

Using state symbols table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

The four state symbols show the physical state of substances at normal conditions

  • Symbol equations should be included when writing chemical equations.
  • An example of a reaction with state symbols is the reaction of copper carbonate with hydrochloric acid:

CuCO3 (s) + 2HCl (aq) ⟶ CuCl2 (aq) + CO2 (g) + H2O (l)

Exam Tip

Be careful when writing the state symbol of solutions of liquids. For example, ethanol, or common alcohol, is a liquid at room temperature, so if it is pure alcohol then you would be using (l) as the state symbol; most of the time alcohol is used as a solution in water so (aq) is symbol to use.

Author: Francesca

Fran has taught A level Chemistry in the UK for over 10 years. As head of science, she used her passion for education to drive improvement for staff and students, supporting them to achieve their full potential. Fran has also co-written science textbooks and worked as an examiner for UK exam boards.
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