What is the average bond order in the sulfate ion?

There are six equivalent contributors to the sulphate ion. Because they are all equivalent, we need to look at only one of them.
Here’s the formula:
B.O.=No. of bonding electron pairs/No. of bonded atoms
In each resonance contributor, there are six bonding electron pairs and four atoms bonded to the S atom. Thus,
B.O.=6/4=1.5
The average bond order in the sulphate ion is 1.5.

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