Q:

What is the difference between metals and nonmetals?

A:

Quick Answer

The major defining feature of metals is that electrons flow relatively freely between atoms in any object composed of two or more metal atoms, whereas electrons around nonmetals are more tightly bound to their respective nuclei or within individual chemical bonds. This results in other significant features of metal, particularly their high thermal and electrical conductivity. A large majority of known elements are metals.

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Full Answer

Metals have several other common features that distinguish them from nonmetals, but few are universal. Almost all metals are solid at room temperature, but a large number of nonmetals are gaseous. Pure metals tend to have a shine or luster, but nonmetals tend to be dull in appearance. They tend to have relatively high densities. They also tend to be malleable and ductile, which means that they can be hammered and drawn into wires. However, solid nonmetals tend to be hard and brittle.

Metals lose electrons easily, and they often corrode easily. The oxides of metals tend to be basic, but the oxides of nonmetals tend to be acidic. Unlike electricity and heat, nonmetals conduct light better than metals, and thin sheets of metal are usually opaque while thin sheets of nonmetals are usually translucent or even transparent.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is it possible to bend metals but not ionic crystals?

    A:

    It is possible to bend metals but not ionic crystals because of the different bonding in their atomic structures.The valence electrons in metals flow freely between the atoms, while a crystal's electrons have a strong bond with their respective atoms.

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  • Q:

    Why are metals shiny?

    A:

    Metals are shiny because metals contain free electrons that vibrate when they come in contact with light. When the electrons vibrate, they produce their own light. This is reflected back and is what creates the shiny, lustrous appearance of metal.

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  • Q:

    What is the most reactive group of nonmetals?

    A:

    The halogen group of elements is the most reactive of the nonmetals. It is also the most reactive group of all chemical elements. Fluorine is the most reactive element in this group.

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  • Q:

    What distinguishes a metal from a nonmetal?

    A:

    In general, metals, unlike nonmetals, are good conductors of heat and electricity, malleable, ductile, and almost always solid at room temperature. Metals very often have only between one and three electrons in their outer valence shells, while nonmetals typically have between four and eight. Metals tend to have a metallic lustre and are opaque as thin sheets, while nonmetallic solids tend to have dull surfaces and are transparent.

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