Diatomic Elements

Diatomics are elements that exist naturally in pairs. They are gases and are found in the p-block.

A quick story: When Mr. Maddin was in college, he dated a beautiful woman named Nina. Nina was wonderful, but to make a long story short, Mr. Maddin didn’t give her the attention that she deserved. Sadly, they broke up a few days after Valentine’s Day. Mr. Maddin really wanted to win Nina back, so he decided to make her dinner. Unfortunately, Mr. Maddin isn’t much of a cook, but he wanted to make Nina something special, something she wouldn’t soon forget. So he said:

“I’ll Have Nina Over For Clam Brains!”

I know what you are thinking, “Mr. Maddin, this is no way to win Nina back!” But actually, this isn’t a story at all. This is actually a great way for you to remember the diatomic elements:

I2 H2 N2 O2 F2 Cl2 Br2

Anytime you write one of these elements without having it bonded to another atom, make sure you remember to make it a diatomic (add a subscript of 2)!


1. When plants photosynthesize, they produce oxygen. Write the formula for oxygen. __________

2. Under the right conditions it is possible to cause sodium chloride to break apart to form sodium and chlorine. Please write the symbols that represent this reaction. Make sure the reaction is balanced.

____________ ? ____________ + ____________

3. A student answered the following when asked to write the formula for sodium fluoride: NaF2 When the teacher asked why there was a subscript of 2 on the fluorine, the student responded, “Well, fluorine is a diatomic element and diatomic elements always have subscripts of 2.” Explain why this student’s answer is incorrect.

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