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I was trying to draw the Lewis structure of Sulfate $\mathrm{SO_4^{2-}}$ that I realized that both of these structures are possible:

enter image description here

The first one has two double bonds and two dative bonds while the second one has four dative bonds. Wikipedia mentions the first one only. But why? How is it possible to justify that the first structure is indeed the correct one using theory?

On a second thought, does a molecule have only one Lewis structure or is it possible for molecules to have multiple equally valid Lewis structures?

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    $\begingroup$ The difference between the two is less significant than you seem to think. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Nov 10 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ Then you were taught wrong. All bonds in the sulfate ion are the same. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Nov 10 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ @andselisk Thank you. That makes sense! I thought my question didn't make sense that it was downvoted but apparently my question wasn't wrong and others have been confused by the same thing as well. $\endgroup$ – stressed out Nov 10 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ @stressedout No, I think this is a legitimate question, but it has been raised in one form or another several times before, probably that was the reason for a downvote. Or maybe somebody doesn't like your drawing. You probably will never know. Just keep in mind it's not you being rated, it's a question. Welcome to Chemistry.SE, by the way, it's nice to have math people around:) $\endgroup$ – andselisk Nov 10 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ @andselisk Thanks. I'm glad to be here although here seems less welcoming than MSE to beginners. xD I did google "how to draw Lewis structures with LaTeX" but it was too difficult. So, I ended up drawing it using MS Paint. I checked some other points and most of them had used pictures to represent Lewis structures. I don't have enough reps to close my question as duplicate but please feel free to do so. $\endgroup$ – stressed out Nov 10 at 18:25

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