Chem – Periodic Symbols


If we look at the periodic table, we notice that there are different individual boxes. Each of these boxes represents a different element and what a single atom of each element consists of. The different elements are represented by one or more letters. These letters are the elemental symbol. For example, the element hydrogen is represented by H and the element Calcium is represented by Ca. If a letter is uppercase that means it is the first letter in the symbol. If a letter is lowercase that means it is not the first letter in the symbol.  For now I want you to focus on getting familiar with the different element names and symbols.


Examples: Give the symbol for the element.

Helium He
Nitrogen N
Magnesium Mg


You should be able think and answer questions in both directions. That is, given the element name tell what the symbol is and given the symbol tell what the element name is.


PRACTICE PROBLEMS: Give the missing symbol or element in the table below. Use this periodic table when solving the problems below.

H Hydrogen
F Fluorine
Na Sodium
Al Aluminum
Ni Nickle
Be Beryllium
Sn Tin
P Phosphorus
U Uranium
Fe Iron
Ag Silver


Unfortunately, you will need to memorize the different symbols for the elements. The sooner you learn them the easier it will be in the future. To help you learn them, I will have you practice throughout the rest of this lesson by forcing you to look them up in order to answer other practice problems. This was the easiest way for me to learn them. I just kept looking at the list of the names and matching them to the symbol. Many timethis means you have to scan the periodic table with your eyes and physically look for the symbol. This is very annoying at first, I know, but it is a very useful skill for the future so it is better to suffer through it now rather than later.  This link is a list of all the element names and their periodic symbols in alphabetical order in case you can’t find them on the periodic table.




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