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I was doing the practice modules on chemical equilibrium and one question asks what happens when Q>1 and when Q<1. Can't you not really tell though unless you know K. I know that if Q>1 the products are favored in the reaction but that does not necessarily mean the reaction will shift to the left to form more reactant.
if Q<1 or Q>1 then certainly you know something about the ratio of products to reactants. But without comparing to K, there's no knowing which way it will shift or proceed.
Q is the reaction quotient, which measures which direction a reaction will proceed given the initial partial pressures or concentrations. K is the equilibrium constant, which is a ration of products to reactants that does not change for the same reactions under the same conditions.
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