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Bond Polarity

Use electronegativity values to determine bond type

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Bond Polarity

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The polarity of a bond is determined by differences in the electronegativity of atoms, or the ability of an atom to attract electrons while the atom is in compound.

Below is a periodic table with electronegativity values. Can you identify which elements on the chart are the most electronegative?

License: CC BY-NC 3.0


To determine whether a bond will be ionic or covalent, you can calculate the difference in electronegativity. Some basic guidelines to follow are:

  • difference of electronegativity > 1.7  is IONIC
  • difference of electronegativity 0.4- 1.7  is POLAR COVALENT
  • difference of electronegativity < 0.4 is NONPOLAR COVALENT

Note that nonpolar covalent bonds do not necessarily need a difference of electronegativity equal to 0 in order to be classified as being nonpolar. Why is this so?

What is the difference in how electrons are shared between nonpolar and polar covalent bonds?

How can you denote electron density in a diagram?

For guidance in answering the above questions or for more information, look here.

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