What is the oxidation state of an individual phosphorus atom in PO33 − ?
Oxidation states are important for keeping track of electrons in oxidation-reduction reactions. Here are some general rules to remember:
Elements not covered: the sum of the charges of all elements must equal the charge on the species. Thus, follow the rules in the fourth and fifth bullet points first, and deduce the oxidation state once all others have been assigned.
In an ion, the sum of the oxidation states is equal to the overall ionic charge. Note that the sign of the oxidation states and the number of atoms associated with each oxidation state must be
considered. In OH − , for example, the oxygen atom has an oxidation state of − 2 and the hydrogen atom has an oxidation state of +1, for a total of ( − 2) + ( + 1) = − 1.
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