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Cohesion can be defined as the force of attraction between the molecules of a substance that holds the substance together. For example, a water molecule is attracted to another neighboring water molecule because of a strong cohesive force (hydrogen bonds) that keeps the liquid together. In the absence of this...

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Cohesion can be defined as the force of attraction between the molecules of a substance that holds the substance together. For example, a water molecule is attracted to another neighboring water molecule because of a strong cohesive force (hydrogen bonds) that keeps the liquid together. In the absence of this mutual force of attraction between the water molecules, one water droplet would fail to stick to another water droplet.

Cohesive forces not only make the molecules of a substance stick to each other, they also contribute toward some of the macro properties of the substance, such as the physical shape it takes, its viscosity, and so on. The magnitude of the cohesive force is different for different substances and decides how well the molecules of a substance stay together.

Cohesion is different from adhesion, which is the force of attraction that occurs between the molecules of different substances. Hence, while cohesive forces occur between like molecules, adhesive forces occur between unlike molecules. Together, these intermolecular forces explain many physical phenomena such as surface tension, meniscus, capillary action, and so on.

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