The 2nd approach is to use the formula for the officially charge and determine the number of lone pairs just like solving an equation with one unknown. We recognize from the ahead post, the the officially charge can be calculation by this formula:

FC= V – (N + B)


V – variety of valence electronsN – variety of nonbonding electronsB – number of bonds


Notice that this is no the only formula for calculating the formal charge, however, i figured it was the ideal variation acceptable to my students.

You are watching: How many lone pairs does nitrogen have

So, for our molecule, we would use 0 because that the officially charge, 6 for the variety of valence electrons because oxygen is in team 6, 2 for the number because that bonds, and also keep the N as the unknown.

Therefore, we will have:

0 = 6 – (N + 2), N = 4

And four non-bonding electrons way two lone bag which is what we acquired when utilizing the table.



Determining the variety of Lone Pairs once there is a official Charge

Let’s now think about this question when there is one more hydrogen bonded to the oxygen. How numerous lone pairs does the oxygen have actually in the complying with molecule?




What we notice first is the positive fee on the oxygen i m sorry is going to affect the variety of lone pairs.

The confident charge indicates that one of the lone pairs that was at first there was used for making the extra bond with the hydrogen and therefore, rather of the normal two lone bag we mean only one in this case. Which we also find in the table, under the +1 fee of because that oxygen:




Let’s likewise look at part examples through nitrogen. How countless lone pairs would you suppose to have on the nitrogen in the adhering to molecule?


Nitrogen is usually surrounded by three covalent bonds and also a lone pair in its standard, no-formal charge combination. The optimistic charge here indicates the it cannot have alone pairs since that would certainly exceed the octet around the nitrogen; 4 bonds and also a lone pair the is a total of 10 electrons:




While exceeding the octet is not impossible, in fact, the octet rule uses only to the facets in the 2nd row, that is quiet very important in organic chemistry due to the fact that carbon and also the other aspects in the second row perform obey the rule. Nitrogen is additionally in the second row and therefore, it cannot have 10 electrons with any type of bond, lone pair, and also formal charge combination.

Looking at these two examples with oxygen and also nitrogen, we notice that a hopeful formal charge means that a lone pair to be on the atom before secondary bond was created using these lone pairs. So, in ours molecule, we have the right to say that there is no lone pair ~ above the nitrogen since it participated in the development of the fourth bond approximately the nitrogen.



Number of Lone bag with negative Partial Charge

Contrary come the hopeful charge, a negative partial fee accounts for second one pair. Because that example, carbon is normally connected with four bonds and no lone pairs. However, once bonded v metals, the carbon is frequently said to be negatively charged due to the fact that of the big difference in the electronegativity values even though this bonds are regularly covalent.

Later, in her organic chemistry class, you will certainly see several structures where the lone pair is not shown but the atom is negative charged. It will be presumed that you recognize the visibility of the lone pair(s) base on the official charge.

Let’s shot to figure out how plenty of lone pairs we have to expect in the adhering to structure:




First, remember the carbon “like” four bonds, and also most of the moment carbon atoms room going come have 4 bonds and also no official charge. A negatively charged carbon atom should immediately tell you about a lone pair that electrons. In this case, since the carbon has actually only 3 bonds and a an unfavorable charge, the must likewise have a lone pair.

This can likewise be confirmed by using the formula:

FC= V – (N + B)

 -1 = 4 – (N + 3)

N = 2, thus, one lone pair the electrons

Therefore, we have actually the adhering to structure v a lone pair because that this carbanion:




To summarize, as soon as asked to identify the variety of lone pairs, remember the electrons are associated with a an adverse charge for this reason if the atom is negative charged, consider the opportunity of having actually alone pair(s). Likewise, a partial hopeful charge need to be a hint that the atom go not have actually as countless bonds (electrons) together it should.


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Determine the variety of lone pairs (if any) on each oxygen, nitrogen, and charged carbon atoms in the complying with structures.


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