Difference Between Gravitation and Gravity

Difference Between Gravitational Force and Force of Gravity

The gravity and the force of Gravitation are very similar terms that are commonly used in Physics. Generally, people consider these two as the same term. Although these two sound alike, there is a difference between the two. Gravitation is the force acting between two bodies While, gravity is the force between an object and the earth’s surface. In this article, we will discover topics related to both gravitation and gravity, their differences, the difference between gravity and mass, the difference between gravity and gravitational potential energy. Let's start by understanding the Gravitational force.

Gravitational Force

Gravitational force is a natural phenomenon that occurs between two distant objects placed in the universe that causes them to move. We know that everybody in this universe moves under the influence of some force. So, the force which is acting between the two bodies in the universe is termed as the gravitational force. 

[Image will be Uploaded Soon]

In the above figure, two bodies are separated by a distance of x and the masses of the two objects are m1 and m2 respectively. So, the force which acts between the two bodies is directly proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them:

F ∝ M1 M2 / x2

  • Where F is force

  • M1 is the mass of the first body.

  • M2 is the mass of the second body.

The above equation can be further simplified as:

F = G M1 M2 / x2

Where G is a universal gravitational constant whose value is 6.67 X 10-11 Nm2/Kg2.

The G is a universal constant hence its value is the same all over the universe. The force experienced by the bodies depends on their masses as well as the distance between them. So, from the above equation, it can be concluded that the force between the bodies will be higher when the bodies are of large masses and the force will be very low in case the two bodies are separated at a very large distance with respect to each other.

Force of Gravity

Gravity is a natural phenomenon that acts between the earth surface and the object placed in the universe. The force of gravity can be defined as the force acting between the earth and an object present near it. Gravity is directly related to earth and the object presents nearby it. As we know that the mass of the earth is extremely huge, and it is to be noted that the body of higher mass attracts the body with lower mass. Thus, it is said that the force of gravity is attractive in nature, as the earth attracts the body present near to it.

F = Mg

Where F is the force,

M is the mass of an object,

g is the acceleration due to gravity and its value is calculated as 9.8 m/s2 and is taken as 10m/s2 for calculation purposes. But this acceleration due to gravity is not a universal constant and its value shows variation from place to place. It is to be noted that the gravitational force is extremely small compared to the force of gravity. So, it can be said that two objects on the surface of the earth will not attract or repel each other easily. While earth can attract any falling body towards it easily. This is the reason why objects fall on the ground. Now, let's understand the difference between the gravitational force and the force of gravity.

Difference Between Gravitation and Gravity

The term Gravitation is said to be the force that is acting between two bodies. On the other hand, gravity is the force that is occurring between an object and the earth surface.

The force of Gravitation is also said to be representing a force that is directly proportional to the product of the masses of two objects and is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Usually, gravity is being considered as the natural property due to which the objects are said to be attracted towards earth. It is said that gravity plays a major role in sustaining life on earth. This is due to the fact that the term gravitational pull acts between the earth, the sun and the atmosphere is kept on our planet earth. Hence, it is the reason behind the air that we need to breathe for our survival. Not only this, but it also helps us to be at a safe distance from the star and sun.

In our universe, each and every object attracts the other with a certain amount of force. The large distance of separation is one of the main reasons for the weak nature of the force of attraction.

  • The gases in the sun are held together due to the force of gravity.

  • Gravity is also a responsible force for water to rest at the bottom of a glass and hovering over at the top of the glass.

  • The force of attraction acting between the earth surface and the moon causes tides in the ocean. This is also the result of gravity.

  • The force of Gravity causes the moon to revolve around the earth.

Gravity has the same effect on every object. If we drop an iron rod and a feather, they both will fall at the same speed. Due to the external effect like air resistance on gravity, it might seem that the iron rod falls at a greater speed. But, if we drop them in a vacuum, they would fall at the same time. The Gravity of an object is directly proportional to the mass of that object. It is one of the weakest known forces in nature.

As the two terms are often a bit confusing, sometimes these two terms are misinterpreted and people consider both as the same. 

However Various Factors that exist differentiates Gravitation from Gravity.

  1. The major difference between gravitation and gravity is that gravitational force occurs between two different or the same objects. While the force of gravity acts between the earth surface and any object.

  2. The force of gravitation acting between two objects is quite weaker as compared to the force of gravity.

  3. The Gravitational force can either be attractive or repulsive that depends on the direction of movement. But, the force of gravity is only attractive, as the object is very small in mass compared to the mass of earth. Thus the object gets attracted to the earth surface.

  4. The gravitational force is a universal force, whereas the force of gravity is a derived one and it may vary from one place to another.

  5. While solving numerically the gravitational force acting between two objects requires the masses of both the bodies to be known while calculating force. On the other hand in the case of determining the force of gravity, the mass of only the object is needed to be determined.

Mass is a measure of how much matter an object has, on the other hand, weight is a measure of how strongly gravity pulls that matter. 

Difference between Gravity and Gravitational Potential Energy

Gravity is defined as a force that attracts a body towards the centre of the earth or other physical body having mass. The force of gravity is the weakest type of fundamental force in nature. Still, it holds together the entire solar systems and galaxies together. The speed of free fall is consistent over the planet earth. This speed is said to be computed as 9.8 meters per second.

Gravitational potential, on the other hand, at any point in a gravitational field is the work done in bringing a unit mass from infinity to that point. Gravitational potential determines the direction of motion of a body in the gravitational field of another body and the gravitational potential energy of a particle at any point can be measured by the work done by moving the particle from infinity to that point. Gravitational potential energy is equal to the product of potential at the point due to the body multiplied by the mass of the particle.


So, from the above discussion, it can be concluded that gravitation and gravity are almost the same in a manner that both are specified by the force acting between two bodies. It can be easily noted that the force between two objects situated at some distance will always be gravitational. If one of the objects is the earth then it will be the force of gravity between them.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What do you mean by Gravity and Gravitation?

Ans: The terms gravity and gravitation are often misinterpreted because of the force of attraction which is between everything with mass or energy. We can say that the force of gravity is specifically the pull of an object toward the Earth and the gravitation describes this fundamental force more generally.

Q2. Explain the difference between the Gravitational Field and the Gravitational Force?

Ans: The force of Gravitation depends on both the source mass and the test mass while we can say that the field is purely a property of the source mass. This vector field is dependent only on the Earth. We can say that it measures how much force the planet Earth will exert on a unit mass and hence the ‘g’ is sometimes known as gravitational force per unit mass.

Q3. Is gravitation an Attractive or Repulsive Force?

Ans: Both the theories are given by Newton in the General Theory of Relativity, the gravitational force is exclusively attractive. However, we can say that the quantization of gravity shows that the force of gravitational can also be repulsive.

Students Also Read