Sulfate is a covalent ion. For this reason it"s an ext realistic to usage formal charges, no oxidation states, to describe its atoms.

It"s yes sir to provide sulfate one overall oxidation state, however it doesn"t make sense to execute so because that sulfur and oxygen in sulfate.

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OXIDATION STATE APPROACH: best IONIC BONDS

Oxidation states are theoretical charges because that a link that has actually ideal ionic bonds, or would kind ideal ionic bonds, i.e. complete transfer of the electron pair to just one atom in the bond.

You wrote #"SO"_4^(2-)#, i beg your pardon is the sulfate polyatomic ion. You created that its full charge to be #-2#.

Since sulfate (#"SO"_4^(2-)#) is already ionized, its fee is its oxidation state. For this reason it"s kind of meaningless to uncover the "oxidation state" for #"SO"_4^(2-)# since it"s currently given.

The oxidation claims for sulfur and oxygen atom are identified from:

electronegativitiestotal charge

#"SO"_4^(2-)# has actually a full charge the #-2#, and oxygen is more electronegative than sulfur. So, oxygen polarizes the electron thickness towards chin more, and thus has actually the more negative oxidation state here.

Since oxygen is on tower 16, its meant oxidation state is #color(red)(-2)#. Therefore:

#-2xx4 + x = -2#

#=>##x# offers the oxidation state that sulfur, which is #color(red)(+6)#.

#=> color(highlight)(stackrel(color(red)(+6))("S")stackrel(color(red)(-2))("O"_4^(2-)))#

But keep in mind the this is unrealistic. If you ever do this for redox balancing, it"s only an bookkeeping scheme, and also nothing more.

FORMAL charge APPROACH: ideal COVALENT BONDS

#"SO"_4^(2-)# is mostly a covalent ion. The electronegativity distinctions are just #1.0#. So, it"s an ext practical to find the formal charges.

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Formal charges space the hypothetical partial charges for if the compound has actually ideal covalent bonds, i.e. perfectly also sharing that electron pairs.

When us cleave every bond in half, us then assume that one electron go to each atom, and we can assign formal charges the way.

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Then:

The "owned" electrons are the ones the atom has upon this cleavageThe "valence" electrons space the ones the the atom typically has as a neutral atom.

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