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Chemical Symbol and Common Elements

Aug 22, 2022

Key Concepts

• Elements

• Symbols

• Chemical name


We know that atoms are very small particles that make all the matter like paper, book, pen, and all the objects around us. The atom cannot be seen through our naked eye, not even through a powerful optical microscope. So, scientists found a powerful telescope called Scanning Tunnelling microscope or STM to see atoms and to take pictures of atoms as well.  

There are 118 different atoms, and of those, only 98 can be found naturally; the other need to be made in a laboratory. Atom is the basic unit, and in turn, it is composed of three major particles called electrons, protons, and neutrons. The Protons and neutrons combinedly are at the center of the atom and are called a nucleus, whereas the electrons revolve around the nucleus. 


Each type of atom is given a specific name and symbol to it. The symbol is called the chemical symbol, and it contains one alphabet or two alphabets. In general, the chemical symbol is related to the name of the atom or the scientific name of the atom. For example, the chemical symbol of hydrogen is ‘H’, carbon is ‘C’. The chemical symbol of sodium is ‘Na’. It is because of its scientific name natrium.  

Symbol of an element: 

Naming of an element with the chemical symbol is based on any of the following: 

  • Name of the element 
  • Latin name of the element 
  • Name of the scientist  
  • Name of the place  
  • Name of the planet 

Name of the element: 

Elements with names starting with the same letter are provided with two letter symbols in which the first letter is capital letter and the second letter is a small letter.  




Neon -Ne 

Helium – He  

Latin Name of the element: 

Elements with names derived from Latin names are given symbols based on Latin names.  


Sodium – Latin name – Natrium – Na 

Gold – Latin name – Aurum – Au 

Name of the scientist: 

Elements with names derived from the names of the scientist have symbols with two letters. 


Einsteinium – Es 

Rutherfordium – Ru 

Name of the place:  

Elements whose names are derived from the place where they were discovered. 


Californium – Cf 

Polonium – Po 

Name of the planet: 

Elements are sometimes named after planet names. 


Plutonium – Pu 

Neptunium – Np 

There are some specific rules for writing the chemical symbols from the name of the element. In general, we write the first alphabet of the name of the element. But for some elements, we write the first two letters. In those cases, we write the first letter in capitals and the second letter small. 

For example, take the example of sodium; we use its Latin name for the chemical symbol natrium. The first two letters are used for chemical symbol as N is already taken by nitrogen. It is denoted by “Na”, the first letter is written in capitals and the second letter is written in small.  

Examples of the Naming of the symbols of the Elements: 

Naming based on the name of the element: 

Naming based on the name of the element: 

Naming based on the Latin name of the element: 

Naming based on the Latin name of the element: 

Naming based on the name of the scientist: 

Naming based on the name of the scientist: 

Naming based on the name of the place of discovery: 

Naming based on the name of the place of discovery: 

Naming based on the planet name: 

Naming based on the planet name: 


If a substance is made up of just one type of atom, then it is called an element. Molecular elements are made of small molecules like oxygen, sulphur, and so on. Carbon is a unique element because carbon atoms can form extremely large molecules.  

Elements are substances that are made up of only one type of atom, each atom having exactly the same number of protons in its nucleus as the next atom. This gives each element its own distinctive atomic number. For example, carbon ‘C’ is an element because all of its atoms are carbon atoms. Each carbon atom has 6 protons in its nucleus, giving carbon an atomic number of 6. 

The periodic table: 

There are 118 different elements and, therefore, 118 different types of basic atoms. The periodic table is a list of all 118 known elements, arranged in order of their atomic number. 

The most commonly used elements are Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Sodium, Magnesium, Aluminium, Chlorine, Iron, Silicon, Lead, Gold. 

the periodic table
periodic table elements


• Atoms are the basic unit of any matter around us.

• Atom contains electrons, protons, neutrons in it.

• Chemical symbols and their allotment to the elements

• Rules for the chemical symbols

• Examples of the chemical symbols

• Elements are the combination of the same type of atoms.


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