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As you go across a period the electronegativity increases.
As you go down a group, electronegativity decreases.
Explaining the patterns in electronegativity
The attraction that a bonding pair of electrons feels for a particular nucleus depends on:
the number of protons in the nucleus;
the distance from the nucleus;
the amount of screening by inner electrons.
Why does electronegativity increase across a period?
Consider sodium at the beginning of period 3 and chlorine at the end (ignoring the noble gas, argon). Think of sodium chloride as if it were covalently bonded.
Both sodium and chlorine have their bonding electrons in the 3-level. The electron pair is screened from both nuclei by the 1s, 2s and 2p electrons, but the chlorine nucleus has 6 more protons in it. It is no wonder the electron pair gets dragged so far towards the chlorine that ions are formed.
Electronegativity increases across a period because the number of charges on the nucleus increases. That attracts the bonding pair of electrons more strongly.
Why does electronegativity fall as you go down a group?
Think of hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen chloride.
The bonding pair is shielded from the fluorine's nucleus only by the 1s2 electrons.. In the chlorine case it is shielded by all the 1s22s22p6 electrons.
In each case there is a net pull from the centre of the fluorine or chlorine of +7. But fluorine has the bonding pair in the 2-level rather than the 3-level as it is in chlorine. If it is closer to the nucleus, the attraction is greater.
As you go down a group, electronegativity decreases because the bonding pair of electrons is increasingly distant from the attraction of the nucleus.
Please let me know if you need any clarification with electronegativity I'm always happy to answer your questions.
Oct 5th, 2015
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