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Hybridization Shortcut

Here’s a shortcut for figuring out the hybridization of an atom in a molecule. This will save you a lot of time.

Here’s what you do:

Look at the atom.

Count the number of atoms connected to it.

Count the number of lone pairs attached to it.

Add these two numbers together.

  • If it’s 4, your atom is sp3.
  • If it’s 3, your atom is sp2.
  • If it’s 2, your atom is sp. 

(If it’s 1, it’s probably hydrogen!)
(There’s exceptions, but you usually don’t meet them until Org 2 – if the word “aromaticity” means nothing to you as a chemistry concept, don’t worry about it for now).

Try it out here. Don’t worry if the molecule looks a little crazy: just focus on the individual atoms that the arrows point to (A, B, C, D, E). A and B especially.  If you haven’t learned line diagrams yet (and “hidden” hydrogens) maybe come back to this later.

Thanks for reading! James