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The way Professor Lavelle explained it in class is that you can calculate the oxidation state/number of a transition metal by looking at the charges of the atoms or ions bonded to in a coordinate complex as well as the overall charge of the complex. The oxidation state/number is the charge of the coordinate compound minus the sum of the charges of the species bonded to the transition metal in question.
Pretty much! The oxidation number is the number of electrons removed from the atom to make it a cation, so if a cation has a 2+ charge that means it has an oxidation number of 2 because 2 electrons have been removed from the original atom
Also, the way I think about it is that the metal's oxidation number must cancel out with what it's bonded to. And when that's bonded to more molecules it all has to equal to the charge that's given usually on the outside of the brackets. You usually know (or they are given) the charge for the other atoms or molecules and the one left is the metal's so that will be whatever you need to equal the overall charge. When there is an atom or molecule outside the brackets and not a charge then everything inside the brackets must cancel out the charge or the outside, so that's how you figure out what the overall charge of what inside the brackets must equal to.
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