Chemistry: The Molecular Science (5th Edition)

Published by Cengage Learning
ISBN 10: 1285199049
ISBN 13: 978-1-28519-904-7

Chapter 14 - Acids and Bases - Questions for Review and Thought - Topical Questions - Page 652d: 77b


$H_2O$ can act as both a Lewis acid and base.

Work Step by Step

If we draw the Lewis structure for the $H_2O$ molecule, we will see 2 lone pairs on the central atom $(O)$, therefore, it can act as a Lewis base. To understand why $H_2O$ is a Lewis acid too, it's more complicated. When $H_2O$ acts as a base: $PH_3(aq) + H_2O(l) \lt -- \gt P{H_4}^+(aq) + OH^-(aq)$; If we draw the Lewis structure for $PH_3$, we will note a lone pair on the central atom $(P)$ In the reaction, one of the hydrogens from the water molecule accepted the electrons from the "$PH_3$". So, we consider $H_2O$ a Lewis acid in this case.
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