NH4+ (Ammonium ion) Lewis Structure in 6 Steps (With Images)

Trigonal pyramidal shape of ammonia NH3
Trigonal pyramidal shape of ammonia NH3

NH4+ lewis structure

So you have seen the above image by now, right?

Let me explain the above image in short.

NH4+ (Ammonium ion) lewis structure has a Nitrogen atom (N) at the center which is surrounded by four Hydrogen atoms (H). There are 4 single bonds between the Nitrogen atom (N) and each Hydrogen atom (H). There is +1 formal charge on the Nitrogen atom (N).

If you haven’t understood anything from the above image of NH4+ lewis structure, then just stick with me and you will get the detailed step by step explanation on drawing a lewis structure of NH4+ ion.

So let’s move to the steps of drawing the lewis structure of NH4+ ion.

Steps of drawing NH4+ lewis structure

Step 1: Find the total valence electrons in NH4+ ion

In order to find the total valence electrons in NH4+ ion, first of all you should know the valence electrons present in nitrogen atom as well as hydrogen atom.
(Valence electrons are the electrons that are present in the outermost orbit of any atom.)

Here, I’ll tell you how you can easily find the valence electrons of nitrogen as well as hydrogen using a periodic table.

Total valence electrons in NH4+ ion

→ Valence electrons given by nitrogen atom:

Nitrogen is a group 15 element on the periodic table. [1] Hence the valence electrons present in nitrogen is 5.

You can see the 5 valence electrons present in the nitrogen atom as shown in the above image.

→ Valence electrons given by hydrogen atom:

Hydrogen is group 1 element on the periodic table. [2] Hence the valence electron present in hydrogen is 1.

You can see that only 1 valence electron is present in the hydrogen atom as shown in the above image.

Hence,

Total valence electrons in NH4+ ion = valence electrons given by 1 nitrogen atom + valence electrons given by 4 hydrogen atoms – 1 (because of one +ve charge) = 5 + 1(4) – 1 = 8.

Step 2: Select the central atom

For selecting the center atom, you have to remember that the atom which is less electronegative remains at the center.

(Remember: If hydrogen is present in the given molecule, then always put hydrogen outside.)

Now here the given molecule is NH4 and it contains nitrogen atom (N) and hydrogen atoms (H).

You can see the electronegativity values of nitrogen atom (N) and hydrogen atom (H) in the above periodic table.

If we compare the electronegativity values of nitrogen (N) and hydrogen (H) then the hydrogen atom is less electronegative. But as per the rule we have to keep hydrogen outside.

So here the nitrogen atom (N) is the center atom and the hydrogen atoms (H) are the outside atoms.

NH4+ step 1

Step 3: Connect each atoms by putting an electron pair between them

Now in the NH4 molecule, you have to put the electron pairs between the nitrogen atom (N) and hydrogen atoms (H).

NH4+ step 2

This indicates that the nitrogen (N) and hydrogen (H) are chemically bonded with each other in a NH4 molecule.

Step 4: Make the outer atoms stable

Now in this step, you have to check the stability of the outer atoms.

Here in the sketch of NH4 molecule, you can see that the outer atoms are hydrogen atoms.

These outer hydrogen atoms are forming a duplet and hence they are stable.

NH4+ step 3

Also, in step 1 we have calculated the total number of valence electrons present in the NH4+ ion.

The NH4+ ion has a total 8 valence electrons and all these valence electrons are used in the above sketch.

Hence there are no remaining electron pairs to be kept on the central atom.

So now let’s proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Check the octet on the central atom

In this step, you have to check whether the central nitrogen atom (N) is stable or not.

In order to check the stability of the central nitrogen (N) atom, we have to check whether it is forming an octet or not.

NH4+ step 4

You can see from the above picture that the nitrogen atom is forming an octet. That means it has 8 electrons.

And hence the central nitrogen atom is stable.

Now let’s proceed to the final step to check whether the lewis structure of NH4 is stable or not.

Step 6: Check the stability of lewis structure

Now you have come to the final step in which you have to check the stability of lewis structure of NH4.

The stability of lewis structure can be checked by using a concept of formal charge.

In short, now you have to find the formal charge on nitrogen (N) atom as well as hydrogen (H) atoms present in the NH4 molecule.

For calculating the formal charge, you have to use the following formula;

Formal charge = Valence electrons – (Bonding electrons)/2 – Nonbonding electrons

You can see the number of bonding electrons and nonbonding electrons for each atom of NH4 molecule in the image given below.

NH4+ step 5

For Nitrogen (N) atom:
Valence electrons = 5 (because nitrogen is in group 15)
Bonding electrons = 8
Nonbonding electrons = 0

For Hydrogen (H) atom:
Valence electron = 1 (because hydrogen is in group 1)
Bonding electrons = 2
Nonbonding electrons = 0

Formal charge = Valence electrons (Bonding electrons)/2 Nonbonding electrons
N = 5 8/2 0 = +1
H = 1 2/2 0 = 0

From the above calculations of formal charge, you can see that the nitrogen (N) atom has +1 charge and the hydrogen atoms has 0 charges.

So let’s keep these charges on the respective atoms in the NH4 molecule.

NH4+ step 6

This overall +1 charge on the NH4 molecule is represented in the image given below.

NH4+ step 7

In the above lewis dot structure of NH4+ ion, you can also represent each bonding electron pair (:) as a single bond (|). By doing so, you will get the following lewis structure of NH4+ ion.

Lewis structure of NH4+

I hope you have completely understood all the above steps.

For more practice and better understanding, you can try other lewis structures listed below.

Try (or at least See) these lewis structures for better understanding:

AlCl3 lewis structure BeH2 lewis structure
HNO lewis structure NI3 lewis structure
CH2F2 lewis structure CH3- lewis structure

Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

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