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What's the difference between a monomer and a polymer?

A monomer and a polymer are both terms used in the field of chemistry to describe different types of molecules.

A monomer is a small molecule that can chemically bond to other monomers to form a larger molecule called a polymer. The term "monomer" is derived from the Greek words "mono," meaning single, and "meros," meaning part. It refers to the fact that a monomer is a single unit or building block that can repeat and combine with other monomers to create a polymer.

In contrast, a polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating subunits called monomers. The term "polymer" comes from the Greek words "poly," meaning many, and "meros," meaning part. It indicates that a polymer consists of many repeating units or monomers linked together in a chain-like fashion.

When monomers undergo a process called polymerization, they chemically react with each other, typically through covalent bonds, to form a polymer. This reaction can occur through various mechanisms, such as condensation polymerization or addition polymerization, depending on the nature of the monomers involved.

Polymers can vary widely in size, structure, and properties depending on the types of monomers used and the arrangement of the monomer units in the polymer chain. The repeating units in a polymer can be identical or different, allowing for a vast diversity of polymer compositions and functionalities. Examples of polymers include common substances like plastics, rubber, proteins, DNA, and many synthetic materials used in various industries.

In summary, the main difference between a monomer and a polymer lies in their size and structure. A monomer is a single unit that can combine with other monomers to form a polymer, which is a large molecule composed of repeating monomer units.

some examples of polymers and their corresponding monomers:


  1. Polyethylene: Monomer - Ethylene
  2. Polypropylene: Monomer - Propylene
  3. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): Monomer - Vinyl chloride
  4. Polystyrene: Monomer - Styrene
  5. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET): Monomers - Ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid
  6. Polyurethane: Monomers - Isocyanates and polyols
  7. Polyacrylonitrile: Monomer - Acrylonitrile
  8. Polyvinyl acetate (PVA): Monomer - Vinyl acetate
  9. Polycarbonate: Monomers - Bisphenol A and phosgene
  10. Polyamide (Nylon): Monomers - Diamines and dicarboxylic acids


  1. Ethylene
  2. Styrene
  3. Vinyl chloride
  4. Acrylonitrile
  5. Butadiene
  6. Propylene
  7. Methyl methacrylate
  8. Tetrafluoroethylene
  9. Vinyl acetate
  10. Acrylic acid

These are just a few examples, and there are many more polymers and monomers with various chemical compositions and applications.


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