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It is one entity of a substance, a unit for a formula, like 1 H2O molecule. The way we use them in our course, they are synonymous with molecules or atoms in the sense that they are associated with Avogadro's number.
Formula units are essentially empirical formulas for ionic compounds. It's the lowest whole number ratio of ions in an ionic compound. Most of the time formula units represent molecules, therefore they can be calculated by using Avogadro's number in a stoichiometric conversion. Hope this helps :)
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