Why are resonance structures used instead of lewis structures to correctly model certain molecules?

1 Answer
Feb 25, 2016


Structures and diagrams are representations; they are not the molecules.


However we represent the molecule, we are not going to change its formula, and we certainly are not going to change its chemistry. Nevertheless, as chemists, as physical scientists we want to make sure that we are not misunderstood, and able to communicate with our colleagues unambiguously.

The benzene molecule is probably the best example of this. Most older generation chemists would be quite happy to represent this as a cyclohexatriene with #1,3,5# conjugated double bonds. Of course, we know that the structure IS NOT correctly described by this picture: all the #C-C# bond lengths are equal. There seems to be a move to represent benzene as circle within a hexagon to emphasize the delocalization of the #pi# bonds. Again, this is personal preference rather than actual chemistry.