What is the Lewis structure of HCN?

1 Answer
Oct 29, 2015

Cyanide anion, #5# #+# #4# valence electrons: #[:C-=N:]^-#. There is a formal negative charge associated with this anion. Where does it reside?


The nitrogen nucleus has 3 electrons from the triple bond, and 2 electrons from its lone pair, and 2 inner core electrons; the associated charge balances the 7 protons in the nitrogen nucleus, so the nitrogen is formally neutral.

The carbon atom has (or shares) 3 electrons from the triple bond, and a lone pair of electrons, which it owns. With 2 inner core electrons, this makes 7 electrons with which it is associated. Since, the atomic number of carbon is #6#, the carbon atom is formally negatively charged.

When I write #H-C-=N:#, the carbon atom has a share of 4 electrons, and with 2 inner core electrons it is formally neutral, as is the nitrogen and the hydrogen.