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An Hydrogen ion is said to have a charge of 1+, however in other molecules Oxygen for instance which is said to have a 2- charge but in a SO4 molecule it has a 1- charge. So what is the difference between these two?
Formal charge is the charge assoicated with each atom in a molecule, while the general charge you are referring to (the molecule's net charge) is the sum of all of the individual atoms' formal charge. In the case of [SO4], I believe the charge is 2-, which reflects an accurate sum of the formal charge of its atoms.
The formal charge is assigned to each individual atom and is the difference between the valence electrons it normally possesses and the electrons it possesses in the molecule (from bonds or lone pairs). Each atom in a molecule will have a formal charge, and the sume of their formal charges will make up the charge of the whole molecule
Formal charge depends on the bonds and lone pairs assigned to each atom in a structure. It compares the charge in the atom, calculated by the number of bonds divided by 2 and the number of electrons in the lone pairs, to the normal number of valence electrons.
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