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I am highly confused as to how to know when an element has a higher electronegativity than another element for example why does oxygen have a higher electronegativity than nitrogen? can someone explain this to me thoroughly?
Electronegativity describes the ability of an atom to attract electrons. The more protons an atom has (as indicated by the atomic number), the better it is at attracting electrons. That's why Oxygen has a higher electronegativity than Nitrogen. As a general rule of thumb, electronegativity increases across a row in the periodic table.
Electronegativity describes an atom's tendency to attract bonding pair electrons to itself, which can be determined mainly by the number of valence electrons in the outer shell. In theory, an atom wants 8 outer valence electrons to feel completely stable... so to satisfy that it will pull from other atoms who dont possess that stronger attraction to need more electrons. For example, oxygen has 6 valence electrons and a relatively high electronegativity because it is close to filling up 8 valence electrons to feel more stable. Oxygen can pull electrons from a electronegatively weaker atom like hydrogen to complete that 8 valence electron outer shell. To answer your question about why oxygen has a higher electronegatively you can look at the valence electrons. Nitrogen has 5 and oxygen has 6. It is easier for oxygen to pull 2 electrons from somewhere than it is for nitrogen to pull 3, hence oxygen having a greater electronegativity.
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