# [Chemistry] How many electrons an element will gain or lose?

• PhyiscsisNeat
In summary, the number of electrons an element will gain or lose depends on its atomic structure and its position on the periodic table. Atoms with incomplete outer electron shells tend to gain or lose electrons in order to achieve a stable octet, while atoms with full outer shells tend to remain neutral. The number of electrons gained or lost is determined by the element's valence electrons, which are the electrons in the outermost energy level. Elements in the same group on the periodic table have the same number of valence electrons, and therefore tend to gain or lose the same number of electrons. This process of gaining or losing electrons is known as ionization and plays a crucial role in chemical reactions and bonding between atoms.
PhyiscsisNeat

## Homework Statement

Predict how many electrons will most likely be gained or lost by each element:

In this case, Gallium

## Homework Equations

None (that I know of)

## The Attempt at a Solution

[/B]
I know that Gallium is a metal, and metals tend to lose electrons to become cations, so I will assume that Ga will be losing electrons. At the top of the column in which Ga resides sits the term 3A, which I understand to be the number of valence electrons each element in the column has. Beyond this, I have no idea what I am doing. Can someone explain how to predict how many electrons a given element will gain or lose? Thank you in advance.

PhyiscsisNeat said:

## Homework Statement

Predict how many electrons will most likely be gained or lost by each element:

In this case, Gallium

## Homework Equations

None (that I know of)

## The Attempt at a Solution

[/B]
I know that Gallium is a metal, and metals tend to lose electrons to become cations, so I will assume that Ga will be losing electrons. At the top of the column in which Ga resides sits the term 3A, which I understand to be the number of valence electrons each element in the column has. Beyond this, I have no idea what I am doing. Can someone explain how to predict how many electrons a given element will gain or lose? Thank you in advance.

Hi PhyiscsisNeat! :)

So it's in group 3A out of 8 groups in total (in the 'A' system).
That means it has 3 electrons in its outer shell that it can release (up to Ga3+).
Or alternatively it can complete its outer shell by attracting up to 5 electrons (up to Ga5-).
Wiki (link) says that the oxidation states of Ga are 3,2,1,-1,-2,-4,-5.

Thank you! The electron lose and gain was confusing me... I guess I wasn't there that day. Finished the assignment with a 99.5%. Thanks again.

I like Serena
You are most likely expected to assume the element will "fill the octet" - that is, it will either lose or gain electrons till it has an octet on the outermost shell.

That's only an approximation, and a poor one, of what can really happen in reality.

Borek said:
You are most likely expected to assume the element will "fill the octet" - that is, it will either lose or gain electrons till it has an octet on the outermost shell.

That's only an approximation, and a poor one, of what can really happen in reality.
If I'm not mistaken it only really holds true for elements in group 1, which only seem to have the +1 valency.
Elements in 7A (or 15B) will have -1, but can still have various positive valencies.
It's only oxygen that seems to be pretty consistent at -2 isn't it?

I like Serena said:
If I'm not mistaken it only really holds true for elements in group 1, which only seem to have the +1 valency.

It works a bit better when we try to predict the most stable configuration only (-1 for all halogens), plus in most cases it is a "natural" (whatever it means) valence for many other elements. Or, to put it differently: for each element the octet rule predicts one of its valencies, the lighter the element, the more common/basic this valence is.

It's only oxygen that seems to be pretty consistent at -2 isn't it?

H2O2, OF2

I like Serena
PhyiscsisNeat said:

## Homework Statement

Predict how many electrons will most likely be gained or lost by each element:

In this case, Gallium

## Homework Equations

None (that I know of)

## The Attempt at a Solution

[/B]
I know that Gallium is a metal, and metals tend to lose electrons to become cations, so I will assume that Ga will be losing electrons. At the top of the column in which Ga resides sits the term 3A, which I understand to be the number of valence electrons each element in the column has. Beyond this, I have no idea what I am doing. Can someone explain how to predict how many electrons a given element will gain or lose? Thank you in advance.

Well, Gallium electron shell configuration is Argon 3d10 4s2 4p1. This means that the first 18 electrons are configured in shells just like Argon (Noble Gas). That leaves 13 more electrons to account for. On the third shell level (which is d) are 10 electrons. That leaves 3 electrons left at the 4th shell level. Those last 3 electrons are therefore the valence of Gallium (exactly like the valence of Aluminum, which is also 3). This means that Gallium, like Aluminum will be ready to lose 3 electrons and have a +3 charge, therefore it is a cation.

That's why you would expect Gallium, like Aluminum, to react with three chlorine atoms to form Gallium Trichloride, just like Aluminum would (GaCl3).

This is a simplified explanation, I hope it helps.

## 1. How do you determine the number of electrons an element will gain or lose?

The number of electrons an element will gain or lose can be determined by looking at its position on the periodic table. Elements in the same group or column tend to gain or lose the same number of electrons to achieve a full outer shell.

## 2. What is the significance of gaining or losing electrons for an element?

Gaining or losing electrons allows an element to achieve a stable electron configuration, which is necessary for it to be chemically stable and reactive. This process is known as achieving a full octet.

## 3. What is the general rule for determining the number of electrons an element will gain or lose?

The general rule is that elements will gain or lose electrons to achieve an outer shell with 8 electrons, except for elements in the first and second rows of the periodic table, which generally gain or lose electrons to achieve a full outer shell with 2 electrons.

## 4. Can an element gain or lose more than 8 electrons?

Yes, elements in the third row and below can gain or lose more than 8 electrons in order to achieve a full outer shell. This is because they have more energy levels and can hold more electrons.

## 5. How does the number of electrons an element gains or loses affect its properties?

The number of electrons an element gains or loses can greatly affect its properties. Elements that gain electrons tend to become negatively charged ions, while elements that lose electrons become positively charged ions. This can impact the element's reactivity and ability to form compounds with other elements.

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