# A chemical symbol represents what of an element?

Jul 12, 2017

An element's symbol is merely a shorthand representation of the element.

It would be painstaking to have to write out the name of the element every time you wanted to mention it, so the symbols are a great way to shortly represent the element!

$11$ elements have symbols derived from Latin:

• Sodium - $\text{Na}$ ("natrium")

• Potassium - $\text{K}$ ("kalium")

• Iron - $\text{Fe}$ ("ferrum")

• Copper - $\text{Cu}$ ("cuprum")

• Silver - $\text{Ag}$ ("argentum")

• Tin - $\text{Sn}$ ("stannum")

• Antimony - $\text{Sb}$ ("stibium")

• Tungsten - $\text{W}$ ("wolfram")

• Gold - $\text{Au}$ ("aurum")

• Mercury - $\text{Hg}$ ("hydrargyrum")

• Lead - $\text{Pb}$ ("plumbum")

Jul 12, 2017

If no numbers are present, it represents a single atom of an element.

#### Explanation:

A chemical symbol represents a single atom of an element:

• $H$ a single hydrogen atom

• $C$ a single carbon atom.

If there are numbers on the left side, then the number of atoms increase, but they are separate atoms:

• $3 H$ 3 atoms of hydrogen

• $10 K$ ten atoms of potassium

If the number appears on the right side with a subscript, then the whole symbol represents a single molecule with as many atoms as the number says:

• ${H}_{2}$ a two atom particle of hydrogen

• ${O}_{3}$ a three atom particle of oxygene (also known as ozone)

If the symbol is in the form of $a {X}_{b}$ then it represents $a$ particles each formed of $b$ atoms:

• $4 {O}_{2}$ four two atom particles of oxgen

• $6 {N}_{2}$ six two atom particles of nitrogen