What do you understand by the term covalency?

The number of electron pairs that an atom shares with one or more atoms of the same or different kind to achieve a stable electronic configuration is called covalency.


The number of bonds an atom can form within a molecule is known as its covalency. The simplest atom, hydrogen has the capacity to form one bond; that is, it can attach itself to one other atom to form a molecule. Oxygen atoms can form two bonds and nitrogen atoms can form three within a molecule.
  • To calculate the formula for a molecule the covalencies of the atoms must be balanced.
  • Take for instance the molecule methane made from carbon and hydrogen atoms.
  • Carbon with covalency 4 is matched by 4 hydrogen atoms each with covalency 1.
  • Covalency of carbon in the CO molecule is three because the carbon atom can be an acceptor of an electron pair.

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