VSEPR Theory, short-named VSEPR theory, states that the geometry of a molecule is based on minimizing the repulsion between electron groups on the central element. Now, what exactly do we mean by electron groups? Well, electron groups, we're going to say, equal lone pairs on the central element plus bonding groups. Now, when I say bonding groups, I mean the surrounding elements that are connected to the central element. And we're going to say here that our lone pair electrons, which are part of our lone pair, exhibit an electron cloud that further adds to repulsion. So, when we talk about VSEPR theory, it's just talking about how atoms and lone pairs on the central element will space themselves out to form specific types of shapes. This happens because of the repulsion that exists between the lone pairs and the bonding groups on the central element.

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# Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion Theory (Simplified) - Online Tutor, Practice Problems & Exam Prep

VSEPR theory, or Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion theory, explains molecular geometry by minimizing repulsion between electron groups around a central atom. Electron groups include lone pairs and bonding pairs. With 2, 3, or 4 electron groups, various shapes emerge: linear for 2, trigonal planar or bent for 3, and tetrahedral, trigonal pyramidal, or square planar for 4. Understanding these configurations is crucial for predicting molecular behavior and reactivity in chemical reactions.

Using **VSEPR Theory**, locations of surrounding elements and lone pairs around central element can be determined.

### Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion Theory (Simplified) Concept 1

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### Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion Theory (Simplified) Example 1

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Here it asks, how many electron groups are on the nitrogen atom based on the following Lewis dot structure? So here we have NH_{3}. Now remember, your electron groups equal the lone pair or pairs on the central element plus the bonding groups on the central element. Remember, bonding groups are just these surrounding elements. So if we take a look here, we have 1 lone pair on the central element, plus 1, 2, 3 surrounding elements, which equates to 3 bonding groups. So the total number of electron groups on the nitrogen would be 4.

### Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion Theory (Simplified) Concept 2

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Here, we can say using VSEPR theory, the locations of surrounding elements and lone pairs around the central element are determined. Here, we're going to say that the number of electron groups on the central element can either be 2, 3, or 4. If we take a look here at our molecular shapes, we're going to say that when your central element has 2 electron groups, they both are going to be surrounding elements. So this black ball here represents our central element, and it's connected to 2 surrounding elements or bonding groups.

When we have 3 electron groups on the central element, there are 2 possibilities. The central element either has 3 surrounding elements, or it has 2 surrounding elements and one lone pair. When the central element has 4 electron groups, then there are 3 possibilities. The central element could either be connected to 4 surrounding groups, and that's it, or it could be connected to 3 surrounding groups and one lone pair, or it could be connected to 2 surrounding groups and 2 lone pairs.

So just realize the different combinations that exist, and realize the more electron groups that we have on the central element, the more possible shapes that can arise. Now, all you have to remember are electron groups of 2, 3, and 4, so don't worry about going beyond that. And just remember, we're going to go more in-depth in terms of naming of these molecular shapes later on.

Using VSEPR Theory, the locations of surrounding elements and lone pairs around the central element are determined.

### Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion Theory (Simplified) Example 2

#### Video transcript

How many electron groups, lone pairs, and bonding groups does the compound have respectively? Alright. So electron groups, we're going to abbreviate as EG, lone pairs on the central element as LP, and bonding groups as BG. Alright. So lone pairs on the central element. We have one lone pair on the central element. Bonding groups are the surrounding elements attached to that central element. That'd be 1, 2 bonding groups. That means we have a total of 3 electron groups. Alright? So we'd say we have 3 electron groups, 1 lone pair, and 2 bonding groups for this particular compound.

### Here’s what students ask on this topic:

What is VSEPR theory and how does it determine molecular geometry?

VSEPR theory, or Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion theory, explains the shape of molecules by minimizing the repulsion between electron groups around a central atom. Electron groups include lone pairs and bonding pairs. The theory posits that these groups will arrange themselves as far apart as possible to minimize repulsion, leading to specific molecular geometries. For example, with 2 electron groups, the shape is linear; with 3 groups, it can be trigonal planar or bent; and with 4 groups, it can be tetrahedral, trigonal pyramidal, or square planar. Understanding these shapes helps predict molecular behavior and reactivity.

How do lone pairs affect the shape of a molecule according to VSEPR theory?

Lone pairs affect the shape of a molecule by exerting greater repulsion on bonding pairs, causing bond angles to adjust. In VSEPR theory, lone pairs are considered electron groups that occupy more space than bonding pairs. For instance, in a molecule with 4 electron groups, if one is a lone pair, the shape becomes trigonal pyramidal instead of tetrahedral. If there are two lone pairs, the shape becomes bent. This is because lone pairs push bonding pairs closer together, altering the ideal bond angles.

What are the possible molecular shapes for a central atom with 4 electron groups?

For a central atom with 4 electron groups, the possible molecular shapes are tetrahedral, trigonal pyramidal, and bent. In a tetrahedral shape, all 4 groups are bonding pairs, resulting in bond angles of approximately 109.5°. In a trigonal pyramidal shape, there are 3 bonding pairs and 1 lone pair, which slightly reduces the bond angles. In a bent shape, there are 2 bonding pairs and 2 lone pairs, further reducing the bond angles due to the increased repulsion from the lone pairs.

Why is it important to understand VSEPR theory in chemistry?

Understanding VSEPR theory is crucial in chemistry because it helps predict the three-dimensional shapes of molecules, which in turn influences their physical and chemical properties. Molecular geometry affects reactivity, polarity, phase of matter, color, magnetism, biological activity, and more. By knowing the shape of a molecule, chemists can infer how it will interact with other molecules, which is essential for fields like drug design, materials science, and chemical engineering.

How does the number of electron groups around a central atom determine its molecular shape?

The number of electron groups around a central atom determines its molecular shape by dictating how these groups arrange themselves to minimize repulsion. With 2 electron groups, the shape is linear. With 3 groups, the shape can be trigonal planar if all are bonding pairs, or bent if there is one lone pair. With 4 groups, the shapes can be tetrahedral (4 bonding pairs), trigonal pyramidal (3 bonding pairs, 1 lone pair), or bent (2 bonding pairs, 2 lone pairs). Each configuration minimizes repulsion, leading to specific bond angles and molecular geometries.