I'm just beginning to learn general chemistry, and I'm reading my textbook's chapter on aqueous solutions. My question is, why do we term a solution of an ionic compound (like NaCl) like this: NaCl(aq) instead of: Na+(aq) + Cl-(aq) ? Technically, when the sodium chloride is dissolved in water, the ions dissociate, and they are no longer the ionic compound "sodium chloride", they're just sodium and chloride ions floating in the water willy-nilly, right? And then, what if you dissolved sodium chloride and potassium nitrate into the same water. Would you write, NaCl(aq) + KNO3(aq) ? How do you know that it hasn't become: NaNO3(aq) + KCl(aq) ?