What is the Lewis Structure of H2O?

What is the Lewis Structure of H2O? The Lewis structure has oxygen as the central atom with single bonds to both hydrogen atoms and two lone pairs of electrons on the oxygen atom.

What is this molecule and what is it used for?

H2O is the basis of all life on this planet. This is a video of some guy trying to rally support to ban dihydrogen monoxide.

Method 1: Step method to draw the Lewis structure of H2O.

In this method, we find the bonds and lone pairs for the whole molecule, then plug it in to the atoms that we have to get the answer. Here is a little flow chart of how we are going to do this:

We will go through the steps below, but one thing to note here is that all the valence electrons (step 1) are either lone pairs OR bonding electrons. In other words…. Lone Pairs (Step 5) + Bonding electrons (Step 3) = Valence electrons (Step 1) . Let’s go through this example so we can see this a little more clearly.

Step 1: Find valence electrons for all atoms. This is determined by looking at which column on the periodic table the atom is in, ignoring the transition metals in the middle. Add the valence electrons for each atom together.
H : 2×1 = 2
O : 1×6 = 6
Total = 8 valence electrons

Step 2: Find octet electrons for each atom and add them together. Most atoms like 8 electrons to form an octet, however hydrogen is one of the exceptions, as it only wants two electrons to form an octet.
H: 2×2 = 4
O: 1×8 = 8
Total = 12 “octet” electrons

Step 3: Find the number of bonding electrons. Subtract the valence electrons (step 1) from the octet electrons (step 2). This gives the number of bonding electrons.
12-8=4 bonding electrons.

Step 4: Find number of bonds by diving the number of bonding electrons (step 3) by 2 because each bond is made of 2 e-
4 bonding electrons/2 = 2 bond pairs

Step 5: Find the number of nonbonding (lone pairs) electrons. Subtract bonding electrons (step 3) number from valence electrons (step 1).
8 valence -4 bonding = 4 electrons = 2 lone pair

Now, use the information from step 4 and 5 to draw the Lewis structures. Remembering too (this is important):

Hydrogen has one bond and no lone pairs

Neutral oxygen has two bonds and two lone pairs.

[Note: For more information on the natural state of common atoms, see the linked post here.]

The oxygen atom will be our central atom because it is the most electropositive. We then place the hydrogen atoms around it, which along with the lone pairs will create an octet of 8 around oxygen and an octet of 2 around hydrogen.

Lewis Structure of H2O

Another (easier) method to determine the Lewis structure of H2O:

Alternatively a dot method can be used to draw the Lewis structure.
Calculate the total valence electrons in the molecule.
H : 2×1 = 2
O : 1×6 = 6
Total = 8 valence electrons

Now, treat the atoms and electrons like puzzle pieces. Put oxygen in the center and arrange hydrogen atoms on the sides. Remember the natural state of each atom, as discussed above. [Oxygen: 2 bonds, 2 LP; Hydrogen: 1 bonds, 0 LP] Also, make sure sure each atom has an octet, which in the case of hydrogen is only two electrons.

Lewis Structure of H2O

Frequently asked questions:

Q: So what is the difference between the two methods?

A: In the first method, we are figuring out all of the lone pairs and bonds first, then placing those electrons and bonds on the atoms to form a molecule. In the puzzle method, we already have lone pairs and bonding electrons assigned to each atom, so all we need to do is push puzzle pieces together to get a molecule. In each method, we need to remember the “happy state” of each atom, ei hydrogen likes 1 bond and no lone pairs, uncharged carbon likes four bonds and no lone pairs ect.

And now some video:

This is a quick video we put together that visually demonstrates the two methods for Lewis structure and Lewis dot problems.

And finally, the Lewis structure study guide:

Here it is, this is our one-page guide to Lewis Dot and Lewis Structures:

Lewis structure study guide

Dr. Michael Pa got a bachelors degree in chemistry from Binghamton University, a masters degree in organic chemistry from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Arizona. His research focus was on novel pain killers which were more potent than morphine but designed to have fewer side effects. There may even be a patent or two that came out of it. Prior to all of this, he was a chemist at Procter and Gamble. After all of that, he (briefly) worked as a post-doctoral assistant at Syracuse University, working on novel organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). In between, he did NOT compete at the 1996 Olympics, make the Atlanta Braves opening day roster, or become the head coach of the Indiana Pacers, as he had intended. #fail During this entire time, he always loved helping students, especially if they were struggling with organic chemistry. In 2006, Dr. Pa founded AceOrganicChem.com in order to make learning organic chemistry fast and easy. 14 years and about 60,000 students later we are still helping students to learn organic chemistry one reaction at a time at https://www.aceorganicchem.com