What is Force? – Calculation, Definition, Formula, Types

Force is a term the students in high school often encounter when studying physics, as most of the topics and chapters are derived directly from it. So here in this section, we have decided to provide a brief explanation of the term force, its various effects, formulas, and many more. Now, let us jump into the topic. 


Force is an external attribute that results in a change of state whether in rest or in motion on a particular body when applied. For instance, when force is applied, a moving body will come to rest, while a body in rest will be in motion. Moreover, force always results in a change of direction, shape, size, etc, of the body. Moreover, the term force is said to be a vector quantity, that has both magnitude and direction. 

What is Force? - Calculation, Definition, Formula, Types

According to Newton’s Second Law, Force is actively distinguished as the product of mass and acceleration of the body, and it is measured using a spring balance.  

Force Symbol  F →, F 
SI Unit   Newton 
Base SI Unit  Kg∙m/s² 
Newton Second Law  F = m a 
Dimension  LMT⁻² 
Other Quantities  Pound Force, Kilo Pond, Poundal, dyne 

Detailed Explanation of Force Formula

The formula for force in physics is derived from Newton’s second law of motion, which states that the force acting on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by its acceleration. Mathematically, it can be expressed as: 



  • F is the force acting on the object (measured in newtons, N). 
  • m is the mass of the object (measured in kilograms, kg). 
  • a is the acceleration of the object (measured in meters per second squared, m/s2). 

This formula implies that the force applied to an object is directly proportional to its mass and the rate at which its velocity changes, which is its acceleration. 

It’s important to note that force is a vector quantity, meaning it has both magnitude and direction. Therefore, when using the force formula in calculations involving multiple forces acting on an object, vector addition principles must be applied to determine the resultant force. 

Additionally, if the mass of the object is constant and there is no change in its velocity (i.e., it is at rest or moving with constant velocity), the formula simplifies to F=0, indicating that no net force is acting on the object. This condition is known as equilibrium. 

Understanding and applying the force formula is essential in various areas of physics and engineering, as it allows us to analyze the effects of forces on objects and predict their resulting motion or deformation. 

What is Magnitude and Direction of Force?

The concept of magnitude in the context of force is fundamental to understanding the strength or intensity of a force acting upon an object. In physics, force is quantified by its magnitude, which represents the amount of push or pull exerted on an object. This measurement is essential for analyzing the effects of force on objects and predicting their resulting motion or deformation. 

Magnitude is typically expressed in standardized units, with the most common unit being the newton (N) in the International System of Units (SI). Named after Sir Isaac Newton, the newton is defined as the force required to accelerate a one-kilogram mass at a rate of one meter per second squared. Thus, when a force is measured in newtons, it provides a precise indication of the amount of force applied to an object. 

For example, consider a situation where a force of 5 newtons is applied to an object. This measurement indicates that the object experiences a push or pull equivalent to the strength of 5 newtons. In practical terms, this means that the force acting on the object has a magnitude equivalent to the force required to accelerate a one-kilogram mass at a rate of five meters per second squared. 

Understanding the magnitude of force is crucial for various applications in physics and engineering. It allows scientists, engineers, and researchers to quantify and compare the strength of different forces, assess the impact of forces on structures and materials, and design systems that can withstand or harness the forces involved. 

Magnitude, as it relates to force, provides a quantitative measure of the strength or intensity of a force exerted on an object. Expressed in units such as newtons, magnitude plays a vital role in analyzing the effects of force and guiding the design and engineering of various systems and structures. 

Direction: The direction of force signifies the path along which the force is applied. Force can act in various directions: horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. In vector notation, force is represented by an arrow indicating both its magnitude and direction. For example, a force of 10 newtons applied horizontally to the right would be represented by an arrow pointing right with a length corresponding to 10 units. Understanding both the magnitude and direction of force is crucial in analyzing its effects on objects and predicting their resulting motion or deformation. 

A Few Examples of Force for Better Understanding

Force manifests in numerous forms and scenarios in everyday life. Here are some common examples: 

  1. Pushing a Door: When pushing a door to open it, you exert force in the direction opposite to its hinges, causing it to swing open. 
  2. Pulling a Cart: When pulling a cart along the ground, you exert force in the direction of motion to move the cart forward. 
  3. Gravity: Gravity exerts a downward force on objects near the Earth’s surface, causing them to fall towards the ground. 
  4. Friction: Friction opposes the motion of objects in contact with each other, such as the friction between the wheels of a car and the road surface. 
  5. Lifting Objects: When lifting a box off the ground, you exert an upward force to counteract the force of gravity pulling the box downward. 
  6. Balloon Floating: The buoyant force exerted by air on a helium-filled balloon allows it to float upwards.
    Magnetism: Magnetic force attracts or repels magnetic materials, such as the force between a magnet and a metal object. 

Understanding these examples helps us recognize the diverse ways in which force influences our surroundings and interactions with objects. 

What Are the Effects of Force?

Now that you have understood the basics of Force, let us talk about the effects of force in much more detail here in this section. As explained above, the force causes a change in movement or shape of the body concerning time. 

Different Effects of Force

  • Force makes a body in rest move while increasing the speed of the body that is already in motion. 
  • The force decreases the speed of the body when applied against it, or stops the motion of the body. 
  • It also results in changes in the shape and size of the body. 
  • Moreover, the force when applied changes the direction of the body. 

What Are the Different Types of Force? 

As you can guess, from the above description there are different types of force, which we are going to explain briefly below. 

Contact Force 

As you can understand from the name itself this force is only applicable if the force acts directly on the body or through a medium. Furthermore, contact force can be further distinguished into multiple types, such as Tension Force, Normal Force, Applied Force, Air Resistance Force, Force of Gravity, Frictional Force, Spring Force, etc. 

1. Tension Force

 It is a force that is applied to a rope, cables, and strings at the ends. In other terms, it is a force extended on a wire when it is pulled from two different ends, which is equal and results in an increase in the length of the wire. 

T = mg + ma

  • T = Tension(N) 
  • G = Gravitational Force(G) 
  • M = mass (Kg) 

2. Applied Force

When a person or a body applies force on another body, that results in a change in the direction or velocity of the body, then it is called Applied Force, which is further distinguished into three types. 

  • Pull 
  • Drag 
  • Push 

3. Air Resistance Force

When an object flies through the air, it will experience a force, which tries to reduce its movement and speed, which is called Air Resistance Force. In more detail, the air acts as friction against the body. 

Force of Gravity 

It is defined as a force that pulls a body or person towards the center of the earth. 

W = mg 

  • W = Weight 
  • M = Mass of Body 
  • G = Acceleration due to Gravity 

4. Frictional Force

Frictional Force is an opposing force that is generated as a result when two surfaces or bodies come into contact or slide. However, it depends on the surface of the body. For instance, if the surface of the body is rougher, then the friction on the surface is much higher. 

5. Spring Force

The force acts as a restoring force to return the body to its equilibrium when another force is acting to stretch or compress the body.  

F = kx 

  • F = Spring Force 
  • K = Spring Constant 
  • X = Distance Stretched or Compressed 

Non-Contact Forces

A force that is capable of acting on a body, without any physical or direct contact. And there are different types of non-contact forces such as Gravitational Force, Magnetic Force, and Electrostatic Force. 

1. Magnetic Force

The force which exists between two different magnetic poles, a magnet and metal is known as a magnetic force. 

2. Gravitational Force

Gravitational Force is an attractive force that acts between two bodies that have some mass. For instance, the bodies with some mass, experience an attractive force towards each other, and they don’t want to be separated. 

3. Electrostatic Force

 A force that is very similar to the gravitational force, but it acts in between charged bodies. For instance, when a scale is rubbed on woolen cloth, it will attract the paper, if it is taken to near the scale. 

What is the Line of Action of a Force?

The line of action of a force refers to the imaginary line along which a force is exerted on an object. It extends infinitely in both directions, representing the path that the force would follow if extended beyond its point of application. 

Key points about the line of action of a force

Point of Application: The line of action passes through the point of application, where the force is applied to the object. This point is where the force acts most directly on the object. 

Direction: The direction of the line of action corresponds to the direction in which the force is applied. It provides a visual representation of the force’s path and orientation relative to the object. 

Independence from Object’s Shape: The line of action remains constant regardless of the shape, size, or orientation of the object. It is determined solely by the direction and point of application of the force. 


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Strong Force in Physics?

A Strong Force is a fundamental interaction of nature, that generally acts between subatomic particles of matter. 

What is Force Formula?

The formula of force is F=Ma

Define force 

In physics, force definition is, it’s a vector quantity that represents the interaction between two objects resulting in a push or pull exerted on one object by another. It causes changes in the motion or shape of an object and is measured in newtons (N). 

What is force and its unit? 

Force is a physical quantity that describes the interaction between objects, resulting in a push or pull. The standard unit of force in the International System of Units (SI) is the newton (N). One newton is defined as the force required to accelerate a one-kilogram mass at a rate of one meter per second squared.

What is force and its types?

Force is a fundamental concept in physics that can be categorized into several types based on the nature of the interaction between objects: 

Contact Forces: These forces result from direct physical contact between objects. Examples include normal force, frictional force, tension force, and applied force. 

Gravity: Gravity is a non-contact force that attracts objects with mass towards one another. It is responsible for phenomena such as the gravitational pull of Earth, the orbits of planets around the sun, and the falling of objects. 

Electromagnetic Forces: These forces arise from the interaction between electrically charged particles. They include electrostatic force (attraction or repulsion between charged objects) and magnetic force (interaction between magnets or moving charges). 

Nuclear Forces: Nuclear forces are responsible for holding atomic nuclei together and are the strongest forces in nature. They include the strong nuclear force (binding protons and neutrons within the nucleus) and the weak nuclear force (involved in processes such as beta decay). 

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