# How many covalent bonds does carbon form in neutral compounds?

$C {H}_{4}$, ${H}_{3} C - C {H}_{3}$, ${H}_{2} C = C {H}_{2}$; in 2 of these examples, the 4 valence electrons on $C$ are formally paired with the $1$ electron on $H$ to form form 4 covalent bonds. In the one instance, ethylene, each carbon centre shares 2 electrons with the other carbon to form an unsaturated bond, a $C = C$ double bond.
For anionic species, there are 5 electrons presumed to be "owned" by the carbon centre, e.g. ${H}_{3} C {:}^{-} L {i}^{+}$, and here carbon has a FORMAL negative charge.