Metals and non-metals

There are many divisions in the Periodic Table, but one of the most important is between the metals and the non-metals.

The metal elements are on the left of a ‘stepped line’ that runs below boron (B), silicon (Si), arsenic (As), tellurium (Te), and astatine (At).

The Periodic Table metals and non metals

You can tell the difference between the metals and non-metals by looking at their properties.

Properties of a typical metal in a solid stateProperties of a typical non-metal in a solid state
Good conductor of electricityPoor conductor of electricity
Good conductor of heatPoor conductor of heat
Generally high melting pointsGenerally low melting points
Malleable (can be hammered into shape)Brittle (breaks when hammered)
Ductile (can be drawn out into wires)Brittle (snaps when stretched)
Sonorous (makes a ringing sound when struck)Not sonorous

At room temperature:

Drops of liquid mercury
Drops of liquid mercury

  • all the metals are solids, except mercury – it is a liquid.
  • the non-metal elements hydrogen nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine and all the noble gases (Group 0) are gases.
  • bromine, a non-metal, is a liquid.
  • every other element is a solid.


Elements in the same group have the same number of electrons in their outer shell, which means they have similar chemical properties

GroupNameMetal / Non-metalReactive / Non-reactive
1alkali metalsmetalreactive
2alkaline earth metalsmetalreactive
0noble gasesnon-metalnon-reactive