How can the same elements form different compounds?

1 Answer
Mar 4, 2017

Answer:

By combining together in different proportions.

Explanation:

Organic chemistry provides a rich and varied demonstration of this principle. Take carbon, and hydrogen, 2 single elements. An entire alkane series is available: #C_nH_(2n+2)#, from methane to tars, that is huge and widely studied.

Take the olefin series, #C_nH_(2n)#, different proportions allows a different family of compounds, and many members in the family.

And we could move to inorganic chemistry. There is #OH_2#, which we would call what? And also #"hydrogen peroxide"#, #H_2O_2#. And we could even invoke the formal cation, #H_3O^+#. What are the proportions in each example?