How to calculate formal charges of ammonia [NH3] with lewis structure?

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In covalently bonded molecules, formal charge is the charge assigned to an atom based on the assumption that the bonded electrons are equally shared between concerning atoms, regardless of their electronegativity.

The overall formal charge present on a molecule is a measure of its stability.

The fewer the formal charges present on the bonded atoms in a molecule (close to zero), the greater the stability of its Lewis structure.

In this article, we will calculate the formal charges present on the bonded atoms in NH3 and also the overall charge present on the molecule. 

So, continue reading!

Name of the molecule Ammonia
Chemical formulaNH3
The formal charge on the N-atom0
The formal charges on H-atoms0
The overall formal charge on NH30

How to calculate the formal charges on NH3 atoms?

The formal charges can be calculated using the formula given below:

formal charge formula

The formal charge of an atom = [valence electrons of an atom – non-bonding electrons – ½ (bonding electrons)]

  • The valence electrons (V.E) of an atom are the total number of electrons present in its valence shell. Valence electrons can be determined by locating the position of the elemental atom in the Periodic Table.
  • Non-bonding electrons (N.E) are the number of lone pairs present on the atom. (1 lone pair means 2 nonbonding electrons).
  • Bonding electrons (B.E) are the total electrons shared with the atom via covalent chemical bonds. (1 single bond means 2 bonding electrons).

Now let us use this formula to calculate the formal charges in the most preferred Lewis structure of NH3.

The most preferred Lewis representation of NH3 is as shown below.

best stable nh3 lewis structure

It consists of a total of 8 valence electrons. A Nitrogen (N) atom is present at the center, which is bonded to three atoms of Hydrogen (H) at the sides via single covalent bonds.

One lone pair of electrons is present at the central N-atom, while no lone pairs of electrons are present on any of the three H-atoms.

It is the best possible Lewis structure of NH3 because the formal charges are minimized in it, and thus, it is the most stable.

Let’s find out how we can determine the formal charges present on each atom in the NH3 Lewis structure.

For the central nitrogen atom

calculating formal charge on Nitrogen atom in NH3

  • Valence electrons of Nitrogen = It is present in Group V A = 5 valence electrons
  • Bonding electrons = 3 single bonds = 3 (2) = 6 electrons
  • Non-bonding electrons = 1 lone pair = 2 electrons
  • Formal charge on the Nitrogen atom = 5 – 2 – 6/2 = 5 – 2 – 3 = 5 – 5 = 0

The formal charge on the N-atom in NH3 is 0.

For each hydrogen atom

calculating formal charge on Hydrogen atom in NH3

  • Valence electrons of hydrogen = It is present in Group I A = 1 valence electron
  • Bonding electrons = 1 single bond = 2 electrons
  • Non-bonding electrons = no lone pairs = 0 electrons
  • Formal charge on the Hydrogen atom = 1 – 0 – 2/2 = 1 – 0 – 1 = 1 – 1 = 0

The formal charge on each H-atom in NH3 is 0.

This calculation shows that zero formal charges are present on each of the three H-atoms as well as on the central nitrogen atom in the NH3 Lewis structure, as shown below.

NH3 lewis structure with formal charge

Consequently, no overall charge is present on the NH3 Lewis structure, denoting that it’s a neutral molecule.

NH3 formal charge

Also, check –

FAQ

How can you calculate NH3 formal charges?

The formal charges present on the bonded atoms in NH3 can be calculated using the formula given below:

V.E – N.E – B.E/2

Where –

⇒ V.E = valence electrons of an atom

⇒ N.E = non-bonding electrons, i.e., lone pairs

⇒ B.E = bonding electrons

What is the formal charge on central N-atom in NH3?

The central Nitrogen (N) atom carries zero formal charges in NH3.

What is the formal charge on H-atoms in NH3?

Zero or no formal charge is present on each H-atom in NH3.

Do all the hydrogen atoms carry the same formal charge in NH3?

Yes, all hydrogen atoms have single covalent bonds and carry a  zero formal charge in NH3.

What is the overall formal charge on NH3?

The overall formal charge on NH3 is 0.

Summary

  • The best possible Lewis structure of a molecule is the one in which the bonded atoms carry formal charges as close to zero as possible.
  • The formal charge formula is [ V.E – N.E – B.E/2].
  • In NH3, 0 formal charge is present on the central nitrogen atom.
  • In NH3, all three single-bonded Hydrogen atoms carry zero formal charges in NH3.
  • The overall formal charge on NH3 is 0. It is a neutral molecule.
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My name is Vishal Goyal and I am the founder of Topblogtenz. I hold a degree in B.tech (Chemical Engineering) and have a strong passion for the life sciences and chemistry. As a highly qualified and experienced chemistry tutor with 4 years of experience, I possess a deep understanding of the unique challenges that students often encounter when attempting self-study in the field of chemistry. I have created this website as a comprehensive resource for those who are seeking guidance and support in their chemistry studies. I have brought together a team of experts, including experienced researchers, professors, and educators, to provide our readers with accurate and engaging information on a wide range of chemistry and science topics. Our goal is to make complex subjects like chemistry accessible and understandable for all. I hope you find the information and resources on our site helpful in your studies. Let's connect through LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vishal-goyal-2926a122b/

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