Metals, Nonmetals and Metalloids

The elements in the periodic table can be categorised into three different types based on their properties. These three different types of elements are called metals, nonmetals and metalloids.

Nonmetals are electrical insulators and form acidic oxides

The nonmetals all have certain properties in common with each other.

Firstly, almost all nonmetals are electrical insulators (they do not conduct electricity).

Secondly, they all react with oxygen to form compounds called nonmetal oxides, which are acids.

Metals are electrical conductors and form basic oxides

The metals have different properties to the nonmetals.

Firstly, metals are electrical conductors (they do conduct electricity).

Secondly, when they react with oxygen they form compounds called metal oxides, which are bases (a base is the opposite of an acid).

There are other properties of metals and nonmetals, but for this course, these are the ones you need to know.

Metalloids are a bit like metals and a bit like nonmetals

Metalloids are elements that have some properties like metals and some properties like nonmetals. This means that they cannot be easily categorised as either metals or nonmetals, which is why the third category, metalloids, has been created for them.

Positions of metals, nonmetals and metalloids in the periodic table

In the periodic table, the metalloids form a diagonal line starting from boron and going down to the right.

The elements to the left of the metalloids are metals, apart from hydrogen which is a nonmetal.

The elements to the right of the metalloids are nonmetals.

There are some elements which have not been produced in large enough amounts for us to study their properties and find out whether they are metals, nonmetals or metalloids. Therefore, for now, these elements are uncategorised.

In the periodic table below, different colours have been used to show the different types of element (metal, nonmetal, metalloid and unknown). Scientists do not all agree about which elements should be called metalloids. This periodic table shows which ones are most commonly called metalloids.

Periodic table colour coded to show which elements are metals, which are nonmetals, which are metalloids and which are unknown.

Periodic table showing which elements are metals, which are nonmetals and which are metalloids. There are also a few elements shown as ‘unknown’. This is because we do not know their properties and therefore we don’t know which group they belong to.

The majority of the elements are metals. They are found to the left and towards the bottom of the periodic table. They include all of the elements in group 1 apart from hydrogen, all the elements in group 2, and all of the elements in the d-block. There are also metals towards the bottoms of groups 3, 4, 5, 6.

The nonmetals are found to the right and towards the top of the periodic table. They include hydrogen, plus all of the group 0 elements, as well as elements from towards the tops of groups 4, 5, 6 and 7.


Flashcards help you memorise information quickly. Copy each question onto its own flashcard and then write the answer on the other side. Testing yourself on these regularly will enable you to learn much more quickly than just reading and making notes.


What properties do nonmetals have in common?


What properties do metals have in common?


What are metalloids?


Where are metals, nonmetals and metalloids found in the periodic table?


Which type of element makes up most of the periodic table?


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