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Difference between mass and weight

Unfortunately,weight and mass are often considered to be same quantities and misused in daily conversations.It is therefore essential for you to differentiate between these two physical quantities.

Weight and mass difference:

Properties of mass:

  • Mass is the quantity of matter possessed by a body.
  • It is a scalar quantity,which has magnitude only.
  • Its unit is kilogram (kg).
  • It is not changed by changing the position.
  • It is calculated by the formula:    m=w/g
  • It is measured by physical balance,beam balance,electronic balance etc.

Properties of weight:

  • Weight is the gravitational force by which earth attracts towards it.
  • It is a vector quantity,which means that it has magnitude and direction.
  • Its unit is newton (N).
  • It is changed by changing the position.
  • It is calculated by the formula: w=mg
  • It is measured by spring balance.

Relation between weight and mass:

Weight and mass are related ,bodies having large mass also have large weight.For Example a large object is hard to throw because of having large weight.

To understand the relationship between weight and mass,note that a freely falling body has an acceleration of magnitude “g” .From Newton’s second law we come to know that a force must act to produce gravitational acceleration.

For example if a body of mass 1 kg falls with an acceleration of 9.8 meter per second square,the required force has magnitude which is given as:


  =(1kg)(9.8 m/s²)



The force that makes the body accelerate downward is known its weight. Any  body near the surface of the earth has a mass of 1kg must have a weight of 9.8 N to give it the acceleration.

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How weight is measured?

A body which has mass m must have weight with magnitude “w” which is measured by the following formula:


Hence body’s weight is directly proportional to its mass m.Greater the mass of an object greater will be its weight.

Since weight is vector quantity ,therefore we can write the relation to find weight in vector form as:


Where g is the magnitude of g,which is acceleration due to gravity.

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