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By definition, ligands act as Lewis bases, which are electron pair donors. Ligands have at least one donor atom with an electron pair used to form covalent bonds with the central atom. They bind to Lewis acidic centers, which accept electron density.
We can use the Lewis definition of acids and bases to explain the formation of coordination compounds. Ligands are Lewis bases, which means that they are electron pair donors. Metal cations are the centers of coordination spheres and are Lewis acids, or electron pair acceptors. The binding of Lewis base ligands to a Lewis acid metal is what results in a coordination compound.
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