Types of forces in Physics

Physics is the study of nature and one of the phenomena in nature is force. We all experience different types of forces every moment and one of the best examples of the forces which you are actually experiencing right now is gravitation force also known as gravity. In this article, we will discuss the different types of forces in physics.

Forces are classified into two types: 1. Contact forces and 2. Non-contact forces.

Types of Forces
Contact forces Non-Contact forces
Frictional Force Electrical Force
Tension Force Gravitational Force
Normal Force Magnetic Force
Air Resistance Force
Spring Force
Applied Force


Pushing or Pulling of an object is what we call as force. It's the interaction between two different bodies.

Push and Pull

If force has to be put into simpler language then it can be said as squeezing and stretching of the object. 

In Physics, the proper definition of Force will be, force is the Pull or Push effect on an object resulting in change in shape and velocity of an object. 

To understand it, imagine a sponge ball and squeeze it with your palm. In this case, you are actually applying force on the ball with your palm which results in change in its shape. 

Similarly, kicking a football does not change its shape like a sponge ball but the ball starts moving, hence it's speed is now changed from rest to motion.  

Symbol F
SI Unit Newton
Formula F=m.a (m = mass of the object and a = acceleration

Effects of force:

In the world of Physics, motion is known as the change in distance with respect to time i.e movement of a body. It can be described as: 
1. Change in speed (from rest to moving or from moving to rest).
2. Change in direction.

Force can have different effects on the body depending upon its a state of motion (whether it's at rest or is moving):  

  • Force can make a body go from rest to in motion.
  • It can stop a moving body or slow it down.
  • It can increase the speed of a moving body i.e accelerate the moving body. 
  • It can change the direction of moving body.

Types of forces:

Now I hope you have the basic idea about force, then taking this topic further let's understand the different types of forces. So there are many different types of forces which you will be studying and all these different types may confuse you. To keep it simple, let's start from the basics.

You will be studying different forces throughout your Physics journey, but most of these forces are classified differently. 

Forces have two different classifications:
  1. Classification on the basis of applications. 
  2. Four basic forces in nature.
So all the forces you will be studying from now on wards will either lie in one of these two classifications only. 

Classification on the basis of applications: 

On the basis of application, force is classified as 1. Contact forces and 2. Non-Contact forces.

Contact Force: Force that acts on the body directly or through some medium are called contact forces. 

Some examples are 1. Muscular force 2. Mechanical force 3. Frictional force 4. Tension force 5. Spring force and 6. Air resistance force.

Force Description
Muscular force Muscular force is the force applied by a person on another object. For example, pushing a table. In this scenario, force is applied to the desk by the person.
Tension force Tension force is the force which is transmitted through wire, cable or string. Force is applied on one end of the string which gets transmitted toward the other end of the string.
Normal Force The normal force is the force that is exerted upon an object which is in contact with another object. For example, if a mobile phone is on the table, then in this scenario table is applying an upward force on the mobile to support the mobile phone or object on it.
Frictional force The frictional force is the force exerted on the surface when an object moves across it.
Air Resistance Force Air resistance is a special kind of frictional force that acts upon an object as they travel through the air. This force acts in the opposite direction of the motion of the object. In most scenarios, this force is neglected due to the fact that it has a very low magnitude and its mathematically difficult to calculate its value.
Spring Force Spring force is exerted by a compressed or stretches string upon an object attached to the spring.

Non-Contact Force: These are the types of forces that act through space without directly coming in the contact with the object are called Non-Contact Forces

Examples of Non-contact forces are 1. Gravitational force 2. Magnetical force and 3. Electrostatic force.

Four basic forces in Nature: 

Force is classified into 4 basic different types of forces. All the forces which you will study comes under any of these four categories. 

Now, don't get your self confused. These four bases of force are just classification of force just like the classification based on an application that you have learned earlier in this article. 

Four basic forces are 1. Gravitational Force 2. Electromagnetic force 3. Weak Nuclear and 4. Strong Nuclear forces. 

Force Strength Type Range
Gravitational 10^-38 Attractive force infinity (∞)
Electromagnetic 10^-2 Attractive and repulsive both infinity (∞)
Strong Nuclear 1 Attractive and repulsive both <10^-18m
Weak Nuclear 10^-13 Attractive and repulsive both <10^-15m

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