Normally, Covalent Bonds form between two non-metal atoms. Non-metals are found to the right of the Periodic Table and will have outer shells that are half-filled or more than half-filled.

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They will tend to gain electrons by sharing electrons to become more stable.

The number of unpaired electrons will determine the number of bonds an atom can form.


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Hydrogen appears in a wide variety of molecules but can never form more than one single covalent bond.


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Similarly, Chlorine appears in a wide variety of molecules but can never form more than one single covalent bond.


Oxygen has 6 electrons (2 pairs and 2 singles) and can form two single covalent bonds or one double covalent bond (maximum of 2 bonds).


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Nitrogen has 5 electrons (1 pair and 3 singles) and can form three single covalent bonds or one triple covalent bond (maximum of 3 bonds).


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Carbon with 4 single electrons is the most versatile and can form single, double and triple covalent bonds (maximum of 4 bonds).


Bonding Pictures

There are many ways of representing the formation of Covalent Bonds. One of the "best" shows the orbitals overlapping to share electrons.

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In exams, however, you are more likely to be asked to draw "electron-dot" diagrams to represent shells overlapping to share electrons.

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In particular, you would be expected to draw diagrams to show the electrons in molecules of methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3) and water (H2O).


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Molecular Shapes

Similarly, you would be expected to know the shapes of simple molecules like methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3) and water (H2O).

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In methane (CH4), all 4 orbitals are used to form bonds and the molecule is the same tetrahedral shape as the orbitals have.

In ammonia (NH3) only 3 orbitals are used and the molecule is pyramidal in shape.

in water (H2O) only 2 orbitals are used and the molecule is bent (non-linear) in shape.


Question9.

The shapes of some molecules are shown below.

Phosphine is a compound of phosphorus and hydrogen. The shape of a molecule of phosphine is likely to be

tetrahedral pyramidal bent linear.

Question 10.

The shapes of some molecules are shown below.

"Bad egg gas" is a compound of hydrogen and sulfur. The shape of a molecule of "Bad egg gas" is likely to be

tetrahedral pyramidal bent linear.

Question 9:The correct answer is pyramidal.

Phosphorus is like nitrogen and has 5 valence electrons in its outer shell

This will be 1 pair and 3 singles - 3 bonds forming to 3 hydrogen atoms.

Using only 3 of the 4 orbitals means the shape will be pyramidal, like NH3.


Question 10:The correct answer is bent.

Sulfur is like oxygen and has 6 valence electrons in its outer shell

This will be 2 pairs and 2 singles - 2 bonds forming to 2 hydrogen atoms.

Using only 2 of the 4 orbitals means the shape will be bent, like H2O.


Key Points 4

A covalent bond usually forms between two non-metal atoms.

A covalent bond forms when a pair of electrons are shared and attracted by the nuclei of two atoms.

If two pairs of electrons are shared, then a double bond forms.

If three pairs of electrons are shared then a triple bond is formed.

The number of single electrons in the outer shell determines how many covalent bonds an atom can form.

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In simple molecules, the number of atoms bonded to the central atom will determine the shape of the molecule.