Bonding compared to Intermolecular Forces

Many students get confused between these two areas because they both seem to be about sticking things together.

Essentially, bonding involves one of three kinds: covalent bonding, ionic bonding or metallic bonding.

In all of these, the atoms are joining together to form a group which is permanent until a chemical reaction takes place. A relatively large amount of energy is required to break a chemical bond.

Similarly, a relatively large amount of energy is released when a chemical bond is created. 

Intermolecular forces hold molecules  to other molecules. They are relatively weak forces. Simply heating a substance will cause these intermolecular forces to be overcome. Examples of the intermolecular forces include "permanent dipole-dipole attractions, "temporary dipole-dipole attractions", "dispersion forces", "Van der Waals forces" etc.

Hydrogen bonding is a particularly strong form of intermolecular force.

It is often around 10% of the strength of a covalent bond.   


See this video about Van Der Waals Forces: London Dispersion Forces, Dipole Attractions, and Hydrogen Bonds.

Southampton University