Movement of Objects: Motion and its Different Types

If you are sitting in your room on a chair alone, think if you are in motion or at rest. Every element in this universe is in a state of motion. You will find all the objects surrounding it are moving. Even the planets in the solar system are in a continuous state of motion. 

The Earth is continuously moving, and you are residing on the Earth — have you ever wondered if you are in a state of motion or rest? To get the answer to this question, we need to learn about motion.

What is motion?

How do you understand motion, or how do you know if an object is moving or not? You compare the position of the movement of an object by observing if the object is in the initial place or has moved to a new position. 

Hence, the definition of Motion is the free movement of an object with respect to time is known as motion. Examples of motion are water flowing from the mountain, a football rolling on the ground, a car moving, etc. 

Components to differentiate motion

If you look carefully at all the examples, do you think all the motions mentioned are the same? Is the motion of a swing and a moving car the same? Different types of motion occur all around us. These motions can be distinguished based on:

  • Distance 
  • Speed
  • Time 
  • Displacement

The distance and the displacement help to describe the change in position of a body. The distance travelled by a body from one position to another depends upon the path it has chosen to travel. The distance covered by moving in a linear path will differ from the distance covered by travelling on a linear path. 

On the other hand, displacement is the shortest distance travelled by an object from point X to Y. So, if you think that point X and Y are two places and the distance between them is z; if an object moves from X to Y and then again comes back at X, then displacement will be zero as there is no difference in the final and initial position. Hence, displacement is nil. 

Speed is the rate at which the position of a body changes with respect to its initial position. It is measured in distance/ time (m/sec). 

Types of Motion

Let’s learn about the different types of motion. There are mainly four types of motion:

  • Oscillatory Motion: The object tends to repeat itself continuously in the same motion without changing its path like a swing
  • Rotary Motion: It is a special type of motion; the object tends to rotate in a fixed axis like the Earth revolving around the sun, etc.
  • Linear Motion: Linear means straight line so, linear motion is a one-dimensional motion along a straight path or a straight line like a person running in a park.
  • Reciprocating Motion: It is a back and forth or up and down repetitive motion. It is a continuous motion, for example, doorbell etc.

Each of these motions has its principles which it follows. Let us learn more about these motions and where we can see them or experience them in our daily life.

Oscillatory Motion

It is a motion in which an object repeats itself unless stopped with an external force. The motion slowly stops coming back to equilibrium or a steady state. It is described as a to and fro motion, and it can keep on moving forever if there is an absence of friction (external force). Some examples of oscillatory motion are tuning fork, the motion of a pendulum, a person swinging on a swing, etc.

In this type of motion, the movement done by the body is referred to as oscillation. It is named due to its repeated motion that takes place in a set period. If you play the guitar, you will observe that the strings move in a to and fro motion or oscillatory motion when you string the strings. 

Rotational Motion

When a body moves along its axis while all the other parts of the body move for different distances for a given period, it is known as rotational motion. 

Hence, if an object is in rotational motion, it will move at different distances in the same period. Some examples of rotational motion are spinning top, rotating blades of the fan, Ferris wheels, etc. 

Linear Motion

It can be defined as a body moving along a straight line or a straight path. The object moves from one position to another, either in a straight path or a circular path. It can be further divided into two types:

  • Curvilinear Motion: When an object moving in a linear motion follows a curved or circular path, it is known as curvilinear motion—for example, roller coasters, etc.
  • Rectilinear Motion: When an object moving in a linear motion follows a straight path, it is known as rectilinear motion—for example, a train moving in a straight line, etc.

Uniform and Non-Uniform Motion

As you have read through the different types of motion, these motions can be further categorised under uniform and non-uniform motion. When you observe an object moving from one position to another, you will often see that the object, before reaching its destination, sometimes stops and needs an external force to resume motion to reach its destination. 

Again the same object can reach its destination without stopping. If you are feeling confused, think; if you are playing football, you kick your ball towards the goal post, and your ball reaches it without stopping in the middle of the path. This is a uniform motion.

On the other hand, if you are travelling from one place to another, you stop in the middle of your path to buy some food and again resume your travel; this is a non-uniform motion. 

  • Uniform motion: An object is said to be in uniform motion if it covers equal distance in an equal amount of time.
  • Non- uniform motion: An object is said to be in non-uniform motion if it covers an unequal distance in an unequal amount of time.


Therefore, by understanding the concept of motion and how it works, you can easily solve questions related to this topic. Read this article thoroughly to be clear about the different types of motion. 

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