Q:

Which elements tend to form covalent bonds?

A:

Quick Answer

The chemical elements most likely to form covalent bonds are those that share electrons, such as carbon, as opposed to those that take them from another element to form an ionic bond. In general, they are nonmetals with similar electronegativities. They are located toward the center of the periodic table, according to HowStuffWorks.

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Full Answer

The purest form of a covalent bond exists in diatomic gases. Hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and the halogens all form these types of bonds. By sharing an electron they satisfy the octet rule for both atoms. Because the atoms have the same electronegativity, the shared electron has the same attraction to both.

The carbon-hydrogen bond organic materials require a covalent bond. These two elements form long chains that sometimes branch and have functional groups bonded to the chain. Breaking the covalent bond requires energy. In contrast, many ionic compounds readily dissociate when dissolved in water.

In polar covalent bonds, the two atoms continue to share the electron, but due to differences in electronegativity, one atom has more pull for the shared electron than the other. The draw is not strong enough to create an ionic situation. This is the type of bonding observed in water. As a result, water molecules have a positive end and a negative end, making it a polar solvent and giving it the ability to dissolve ionic compounds.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How many covalent bonds can nitrogen form?

    A:

    Nitrogen can form up to four covalent bonds, most commonly seen in ammonium. Ammonium is a positive ion, which isn't as stable as ammonia, which has only three covalent bonds.

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  • Q:

    How do covalent bonds form?

    A:

    Covalent bonds form when atoms share their valence electrons with other atoms to become a more stable molecule. Atoms share their electrons in order to completely fill up their outer-most layer — the valence shell. Two atoms that are covalently bonded have less energy than the individual atoms, making the bonded atoms more stable.

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  • Q:

    What types of atoms typically form covalent bonds?

    A:

    Atoms that typically form covalent bonds with each other have similar electronegativity, which expresses the atom's tendency to attract electrons, such as with carbon and hydrogen, which form methane. They stand in contrast to ionic bonds, where electronegativities are vastly different, as with sodium and chlorine, which combine to form table salt. These actually exist on a continuum with significant but lesser differences in electronegativity causing the formation of polar molecules.

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  • Q:

    Why do atoms form chemical bonds?

    A:

    Atoms form chemical bonds because they are seeking out stability. Atoms have free electrons known as valence electrons in their outermost orbital that create unbalanced charges and cause them to be reactive and unstable. The loss, addition or sharing of valence electrons is what causes atoms to bond together.

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