What Are the Main Qualities That Distinguish Living Things From Nonliving Things?

Living things differ from non living things because they are made of cells and contain DNA, transform and metabolize energy, and reproduce. They also grow and develop, respond and react to internal and external influences, and can evolve and adapt.

Anything in this world is either living or non-living. All living things, from simple unicellular organisms like amoeba to multicellular organisms like humans, are composed of one or more cells and contain a genetic code in the form of DNA. Since life forms require energy to sustain life they have metabolic processes to transform, store or release energy and synthesize nutrients. For example, humans inhale oxygen during respiration to release energy from foods consumed. Plants absorb light energy to manufacture nutrients during photosynthesis.

Living things grow and mature during their life circle. Their cells increase in number or grow in size, and differentiate into specialized groups. Living things have variety of methods to reproduce. Eventually all living things die and are transformed into other types of energy. They also respond to different internal and external stimuli.

Movement and excretion are two similarities between living things and some non-living things. For example, a car can move, break down fuel and release carbon dioxide.