Is it covalent or coordinate covalent bond? Because it can be a bond between $\ce{O}$ and two $\ce{H}$ atoms and so it will be covalent bond. And it can be a bond between $\ce{H+}$ ion and $\ce{OH-}$ ion and it will be coordinate covalent bond?

If covalent, why not coordinate covalent? And if coordinate covalent, why not covalent?

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ There is no difference between an 'ordinary' covalent bond and a 'coordinate' covalent bond. As your structures show, they are just two ways of looking at the exact same thing. $\endgroup$ Dec 30, 2018 at 9:59
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    $\begingroup$ The difference is that, in coordinate covalent bond the 2 shared electrons are from one atom (O) , while in ordinary covalent bond the 2 shared electrons are from the 2 atoms (one from O, and the other from H) $\endgroup$ Dec 30, 2018 at 11:27
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    $\begingroup$ And how is the molecule supposed to know where the electrons are coming from? The electrons don't come with labels attached. $\endgroup$ Dec 30, 2018 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah they don't . But in coordinate covalent ,the bond is between hydroxide ion and hydrogen ion . While in ordinary covalent bond ,the bond is between atoms . $\endgroup$ Dec 30, 2018 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ Well it will depend on whether the water is formed from $\ce OH^- + H^+ \rightarrow H_2O$ or from $2H_2+O_2 \rightarrow 2H_2O$. Are hydrogen atoms or hydrogen ions forming the water - this decides whether the hydrogen has an electron to use in the bond forming process. $\endgroup$
    – H.Linkhorn
    Dec 30, 2018 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


The water molecule is symmetrical. The two bonds in it are the same and cannot be distinguished. It makes little sense to label them as different types of bond.

Since the bonds are symmetric, the electron distributions will be the same. We can't tell, nor do we care, where the electrons "came from" and all we can tell is that electrons are shared between hydrogen and oxygen to create the bonds.

So the distinction between covalent and coordinate-covalent is irrelevant for the water molecules and does not help us understand anything about it.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much .If water has two same and symmetric bonds ( that means it can't have 1 coordinate and 1 ordinary bond ),that means it has 2 ordinary covalent bond ,right ?.....how the distinction between the 2 bonds is irrelevant ?water has covalent bond (covalent bonds can be ordinary or coordinate or polar... ),so I just want to know ,is the bond in H2O actually ordinary or coordinate or both are possible?[because when I used rules , both (ordinary and coordinate) were possible I think (as shown in the picture above )] $\endgroup$ Dec 31, 2018 at 9:57
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    $\begingroup$ @FatimaElzahra My point is that it is a simple covenant bond and any attempt to classify it as some particular type of covalent bond isn't going to help understand it in any way. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Dec 31, 2018 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ ok thanks a lot .. You mean it is not useful to classify it ,but I just think it is strange to have 2 different possible types of bonds in water , and I thought one of them is maybe wrong . That's why I am asking :) $\endgroup$ Jan 2, 2019 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Fatima Elzahra again in your reasoning there could be even an ionic one. Is the distinction that does make sense / isn't useful. $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Jan 2, 2019 at 12:19

Perhaps it helps.

Let's take two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms. They come together and react to form water by covalent bonds involving their valence electrons. Fine.

Now let us take a proton and an OH- ion. The ion will "datively" share is lone pair to the proton and water is formed. Again fine.

How do you resolve now what O-H bond is what? They are the same type of bond and does not help nor does have sense to make a distinction between them.

It is exactly what you have sketched. But the arrowed bond is not meaningful anymore as for the two electrons are one from O and one from H, nothing can keep track of history here.

Or as said in a comment: no concept on having a dative bond between ions.


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