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Hi! Can someone explain to me why diatomic elements form, and how to distinguish between whether an element is existing in its diatomic form or not? For example, if a problem involves a diatomic element like oxygen, do you assume that's in a diatomic form, or does the problem have to state explicitly "oxygen gas"?
All the elements in the acronym HOFBrINCl, (hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, Bromine, Iodine, and chlorine) are included in the diatomic elements. Any time these elements are listed in a chemical equation they must have the subscript of 2 as you always assume they are diatomic.
For me, it helps when I picture them on the periodic table because, with the exception of Hydrogen, the other six elements (C, N, O, F, Cl, Br, I) border the top right hand corner of the table next to the column of noble gases.
In high school, we learned to remember them with a phrase pronounced "Br-inkl-hoff," which is Br(bromine), I(iodine), N (nitrogen), Cl(chlorine), H(hydrogen), O(oxygen), and F(fluorine). Helped me a lot back then and now.
Diatomic elements only need to exist in pairs of atoms when they are standing alone. For instance, in OH-, you wouldn't need two hydrogen atoms because the hydrogen is not free standing. However, if you have hydrogen gas, you would need H2 because it is not attached to a different element.
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