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A formal charge is a comparison of electrons "owned" by an atom in a Lewis structure versus the number of electrons possessed by the same atom in its unbound, free atomic state. With formal charge, the molecule's net charge could be determined.
Formal charges are important in determining the best Lewis structure for a molecule with the formal charge of each atom being close to zero as possible. The lower the formal charges are, the more stable the structure.
It's the charge on each individual atom that can be calculated after drawing a Lewis structure. Each variation of the Lewis structure has different formal charges and the structure with the most neutral charge is often the best structure.
The formal charge is the charge on each atom and it is calculated after a Lewis structure is made. They are useful to calculate so you know "good" you structure is; the closer the formal charge is to zero, the better the model
Formal charge is simply a comparison of the number of electrons around an atom in its neutral state to the same atom bonded in a molecule. It is important to note that calculating formal charge within a molecule does not account for electronegativity, it assumes electrons are shared evenly. It is important to calculate formal charge because that information paired with our knowledge of electronegativity, octet exceptions, and stability, helps us figure out the most stable state of a molecule which would essentially be how we would actually see it in real life.
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