The Language of Chemistry

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The Language of Chemistry

Chemistry has its own language, which consists of rules and conventions to help organise the representation of substances and portray succinctly the changes that they undergo at the atomic level.

Every chemical entity has an identifier. For an element, it is the chemical symbol (a one or two letter abbreviation of its name) while for a compound, it is the chemical formula. The chemical formula not only depicts the atomic makeup of the compound, but is also named using a more-or-less systematic naming system. Thus, the elements sodium and chlorine are represented by symbols Na and Cl, while their compound is written as NaCl, which is named sodium chloride.

Matter undergoes changes, and these changes are represented by chemical equations. A chemical equation provides a lot of valuable information about the substances, the conditions and the process of change in a very concise and clear way. Thus, the chemical equation (in its most basic form) for the reaction of sodium and chlorine to produce sodium chloride is Na + Cl NaCl .

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