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Since everyone knows an acid would dissociate(partially or fully) in its aqueous solution and liberate $\ce{H+}$. We also calculate the $\pu{pH}$ of the solution using $[\ce{H+}]$ and this$(\ce{H+})$ is what gives the solution acidity. Now consider we have just got a strong acid i.e pure acid without having any water in it, for example, $\ce{H2SO4}$ and no water in it, would the sulphuric acid dissociate in this case i.e without the aid of water? If it does not dissociate would this substance be acidic, since there would be no $\ce{H+}$ in that case?

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marked as duplicate by Mithoron, paracetamol, airhuff, Todd Minehardt, M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Jul 15 '17 at 17:28

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Not really. Like lots of things with polar bonds, sulfuric acid can undergo ion transfer reactions in the liquid and make ionic species in solution. And it is indeed protons that get transferred just like water. But as with water, at least under ordinary conditions, these ionic species are only a minor portion of the liquid which is mostly $\ce{H2SO4}$ molecules.

Strong acids such as sulfuric acid are indeed acidic, capable of acting as acids. But they still need a base with which they can react, to actually act as acids. In the case of diluting sulfuric acid, water serves as such a base.

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  • $\begingroup$ So if you put your hand in such sulphuric acid you will get shocked right? $\endgroup$ – user41736 Jul 15 '17 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ Your hand contains things like water that can act as bases <cringe>. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Lanzi Jul 15 '17 at 19:23
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First of all, sulfuric acid is just hydrated sulfur trioxide ($\ce{SO3}$). Sulfur trioxide is obviously not an Arrhenius acid, but it is Lewis acidic.

You're specifically asking about something like gas phase acidity. It is possible to give away a proton but without a solvent to stabilize the ions, gas phase acidity is much lower than aqueous acidity.

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