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From what I understand:

*oxidation numbers: are the "act" of electrons moving

while

*charge: is what the atom "wants" to do with its electrons.

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Can anyone please clear up the distinction between the two and when its appropriate to use one, the other, or both at the same time?

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Is it that charge is only used for ions?

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If an atom loses electrons, it develops a positive charge and becomes a cation. Likewise, if an atoms gains electrons, it develops a negative charge and becomes an anion.

"Charges only EXIST on IONS."

Covalent bonding rose the oxidation number. We are aware that in a Covalent Bond sharing of electron takes place. The more electronegative atom will take more bonding electrons and it will get a negative oxidation number (It depicts Anion). Similarly less electronegative atom mimics a Cation.

In other words you can say Oxidation Numbers are fictional ionic charges

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  • $\begingroup$ Im guessing that means I need to use one or the other, never both at the same time? $\endgroup$
    – eromod
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, electrovalent bonds carry Charge while covalent bonds carry Oxidation Numbers. $\endgroup$
    – Mihir
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 19:34

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