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The concepts of formal charge and partial charge are useful to chemists when dealing with Lewis structures Formal charge is the difference between valence electrons and the number of electrons assigned to an atom that shows if an atom is positive or negative Partial charge is the affinity for electrons of bonded atoms that is determined by their AVEE the average valence electron energies While both concepts essentially give chemists the charge of atoms of Lewis structures there are similarities and differences between the twoFormal charge helps chemists identify which atoms in the molecule are likely to be positive or negative without any complicated calculations It helps to determine the best Lewis structure where the best structure is the one with the lowest formal charge Take CO2 for example there are two Lewis structure The first Lewis structure is a carbon double bonded to two oxygen The second structure is a carbon single and triple bonded to two oxygens In the first structure the formal charge of the oxygens and carbon is zero In the second structure it is 1 0 -1 Since the first Lewis structure had the lowest formal charge 0 it is the bestPartial charge however deals with the charge on atoms due to uneven distribution of bonding electrons It represents the actual charge of the atoms whereas formal charge does not For example if the formal charge concept was applied to the molecule HCl it would show that each atom would have no charge because the difference between the valence electrons and assigned electron is zero for both atoms However using partial charges it would reveal that the atoms in HCl do have a charge Cl would be negative and H would be positive because the AVEE of Cl is significantly higher than H causing the electron to be pulled closer to Cl To find the exact magnitude of the partial charge requires calculation that is slightly harder than
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