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Chemistry : Elements & Radicals with Negative Valencies

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What is the Valency of an Element / Radical?

Valency is the number of hydrogen atoms that can combine with [or displace] one atom of the element [or radical] to form a compound. For example, one atom of hydrogen combines with one atom of chlorine to form hydrogen chloride [HCl]; so, the valency of chlorine [chloride] is one. Similarly, the valency of the nitrate radical [NO3] in the compound nitric acid [HNO3] is 1, and the valency of the sulfate radical in the compound sulfuric acid [H2SO4] is 2.

For elements that do not combine with hydrogen, the valency is the combining power of the element with another element whose valency is known. Valency may also be defined as the number of electrons that an atom donates or accepts to form the duplet state (i.e., 2 electrons in outermost shell) or octet state (i.e., 8 electrons in outermost shell).

The valency of an element [or radical] is always a whole number. Elements [or radicals] with valency one are monovalent, those with valency two are divalent, and those with valency three are trivalent. All nonmetals and nonmetallic radicals have negative valencies as shown in the table below.

Valency Element / Radical Symbol Ion
Monovalent [1] Chlorine (Chloride) Cl Cl1-
Bromine (Bromide) Br Br1-
Iodine (Iodide) I I1-
Hydroxide OH OH1-
Nitrate NO3 NO31-
Bicarbonate HCO3 HCO31-
Bisulfite HSO3 HSO31-
Bisulfate HSO4 HSO41-
Divalent [2] Oxygen (Oxide) O O2-
Carbonate CO3 CO32-
Sulfide S S2-
Sulfite SO3 SO32-
Sulfate SO4 SO42-
Trivalent [3] Phosphate PO4 PO43-

Note that a radical is a group of atoms of elements, e.g., sulfate radical [SO4]. An ion is any atom or group of atoms with a positive or negative charge due to loss or gain of electrons. Positively charged ions are called cations [e.g., Na1+], whereas negatively charged ions are called anions [e.g., Cl1-].


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