Problem: Arsenic forms binary compounds with Cl and with Mg.Will it be in the same oxidation state in these two compounds?

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We’re asked to determine whether the oxidation state of Arsenic, As will be the same when it forms binary compounds with Cl and Mg


The rules for oxidation states are as follows:


A. General Rules:

1. For an atom in its elemental form (Zn, Cl2, C(graphite), etc.)    O.S. = 0

2. For an ion (Li+, Al3+, etc.)                                                       O.S. = charge


B. Specific Rules:

1. Group 1A              O.S. = +1

2. Group 2A              O.S. = +2

3. Hydrogen              O.S. = +1, with nonmetals

                                  O.S. = –1 with metals and boron

4. Fluorine                 O.S. = –1

5. Oxygen                  O.S. = –1 in peroxides (X2O2, X = Group 1A)

                                  O.S. = –1/2 in superoxides (XO2, X = Group 1A)

                                  O.S. = –2 in other compounds

6. Group 7A               O.S. = –1 (except when bonded to O)


First, we need to write the formula of the binary compounds of As with Cl and Mg


Recall that Arsenic, As is a semimetal or metalloid:

  • has properties of both metals and nonmetals

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Problem Details

Arsenic forms binary compounds with Cl and with Mg.

Will it be in the same oxidation state in these two compounds?

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What scientific concept do you need to know in order to solve this problem?

Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Calculate Oxidation Number concept. If you need more Calculate Oxidation Number practice, you can also practice Calculate Oxidation Number practice problems.

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Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Shukla's class at HCC.