For example, $\ce{BaHPO_{4}}$ has acidity of 2 and basicity 1.

  1. Why does this so? Its basicity is 1 because it has 1 replaceable hydrogen ion.
  2. But why does this have acidity?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wat do you mean by "acidity of 2"? $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ Acidity is defined for a base and it is the number of H+ ions, 1 molecule of the base takes up. 1 molecule of BaHPO4 of can take up to 2 H+ ions... and thus it has acidity 2... @Mithoron $\endgroup$
    – Sriram V
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 3:08
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, heard of "basicity" so "acidity" indeed should mean this but never heard this term - it's quite archaic, I'm afraid. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ Lol... @mithoron $\endgroup$
    – Sriram V
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


This is because Barium Hydrogen Phosphatev ($\ce{BaHPO4}$) is an amphoteric species:

In chemistry, an amphoteric species is a molecule or ion that can react as an acid as well as a base


Whether it acts as a base or as an acid depends on the medium the salt is dissolved. In a pure water solution, it's an acid, since the following occurs:

$$\ce{BaHPO4 + H2O <=> Ba^2+ + PO4^3- + H3O+}$$

The phosphate ion also has its reactions with water forming other species:

$$\ce{PO4^3- + H3O+ <=> HPO4^2- + H2O}$$

$$\ce{HPO4^2- + H3O+ <=> H2PO4^- + H2O}$$

Since these are all weak bases, you won't "consume" all $\ce{H3O+}$ and the solution will be acid.

If, however, you add a strong acid, the scenario changes:

$$\ce{BaHPO4 + H3O+ <=> Ba^2+ + H2PO4^- + H2O}$$

You'll still have all phosphate species as above, but now Barium Hydrogen Phosphate has acted as a base, since it received some hydrogen atoms, which is a Brønsted-Lowry base definition.

Remember the same kind of behaviour happens with water, even if pure, because of self ionization:

$$\ce{2H2O <=> H3O+ + OH-}$$

Here, water acted as both the base and the acid, which is why it's an amphoteric species.


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