What is the Lewis Structure of NH3?

What is the Lewis Structure of NH3? The Lewis structure of NH3 has nitrogen as the central atom, with single bonds to each hydrogen. The molecule is trigonal pyramidal.

What is this molecule and what is it used for?

NH3, known commonly as ammonia, is actually rather poisonous to humans. NH3 is a gas used primarily in chemical synthesis, mining, and cleaning. But serious, it’s dangerous, so stay away unless you are a legit chemist

Method 1: Step method to draw the Lewis structure of NH3.

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:

Step 1: Find valence e- for all atoms. Add them together.


Step 2: Find octet e- for each atom and add them together.


Step 3: Gives you bonding e-. Subtract step 1 total from step 2

Step 4: Find number of bonds by diving the number in step 3 by 2(because each bond is made of 2 e-)
6e-/2= 3 bond pairs

Step 5: Find the number of nonbonding (lone pairs) e-. Subtract step 3 number from step 1.
8-6= 2e-=1 lone pair

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

Neutral nitrogen has three bonds and one lone pair

Neutral hydrogen has one bond and no lone pairs

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

Carbon is the most electropositive, so let’s start with that in the middle. Then, we attach nitrogen and give it the three bonds and one lone pair it likes. Finally, we attach the hydrogen to the carbon to complete everyone’s octet and give the most stable Lewis structure of NH3.

Lewis Structure of NH3.

Another (easier) method to determine the Lewis structure of NH3:

Alternatively a dot method can be used to draw the Lewis structure.
Calculate the total valence electrons in the molecule.
N : 1×5 = 5
H: 3 x 1 = 1
Total = 8 valence electrons

Now, treat the atoms and electrons like puzzle pieces. We have to rearrange electrons to make sure everyone has an octet. Start with nitrogen as the central atom because it is the most electropositive. Make a single bond to each atom, then start changing the lone pairs to bonding electrons to make sure everyone get an octet [keeping in mind that hydrogen wants an “octet” of 2]

Lewis Structure of NH3.

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