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You can know the difference between them by electronegativity difference. If the electronegativity difference between the atoms involved in a bond is 2 or above, you know the bond is ionic. If the difference is 1.5 or below, then you know it's covalent. Professor Lavelle said the area in between 2 and 1.5 can be a bit blurry, but you can at least use this as an extra way of differentiating between the two.
Atoms in covalent bonds are in a liquid or gas state at room temperature whereas atoms in ionic bonds are in a solid state at room temperature. Covalent bonds are low in polarity whereas Ionic bonds are high in polarity.
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