# Why are we able to break a vector along it's components or in other words why is it that a vector exists along $x$, $y$ and $z$ axis?

Does a 3 d vector exist in three dimensions at once? It seems to me that a vector always changes axis along which it is to fit into the scenario. For example: Electric field in $x-y$ plane when passes through $y-z$ plane only uses it's $x$ component.

• Keep in mind that there is no universal definition of 'the axes'. I can chose a different set than you and we can still both work through to the same final physical results (though the coordinate values we use to express that result would be different). – dmckee Jun 11 '17 at 16:04
• everything is arbitrary in physics – Kavya Negi Jun 12 '17 at 10:52

## 2 Answers

Yes, a vector exists in three dimensions at once. Imagine we apply force to a body diagonally then it will also move diagonally, which means it is moving in both x and y directions. If you block that object from moving in only y direction then you will see it is moving in only x direction while we are still applying the force diagonally. If we know the amount of force we are applying in this case then by resolving it, we can find that how much of the total force is acting in x axis and in Y axis because some part of the total force is acting in X direction and some part is acting in Y direction at once. Same goes for three dimensions.

Does a 3 d vector exist in three dimensions at once?

Absolutely, a general vector is $$\vec r=x \hat i+y\hat j+z\hat k$$ in Cartesian coordinates. This vector has a component in each of the three dimensions and all components are mutually orthogonal. Since the vector $\vec r$ is equal to the sum of these 3 components then it must exist in three dimensions at once.