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Generally speaking, cations (positive ions) are typically metals which lose their electrons in an ionic bond, while anions (negatively charged ions) are typically nonmetals which gain electrons in an ionic bond. For example, in KCl, the metal K loses it's electron based on the aforementioned rule, while Cl gains the electron that potassium shed. Atoms bond to achieve stable noble gas configuration, and by losing an electron, K achieves the configuration of Argon while Cl does the same by gaining the electron. So if the atom would achieve noble gas configuration more easily by losing an electron than gaining an electron, it is more likely to do so.
If an atom has less than 4 valence electrons they will typically lose their electrons to become like a Nobel gas. If an atom has more than 4 valence electrons they will typically gain their electrons to achieve the same octet state. When it comes to the ones that have exactly 4 valence electrons it will vary case by case. remember the 4 exceptions H, He, Li, and Be.
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