From what I understand:

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


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


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?


Is it that charge is only used for ions?


1 Answer 1


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

  • $\begingroup$ 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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