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Element vs. Compound: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
An element is a pure substance of one type of atom, while a compound consists of two or more different elements chemically bonded together.
Element vs. Compound

Key Differences

An element is a basic chemical substance defined by a single type of atom. A compound is a chemical substance composed of two or more different elements bonded together.
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Elements are listed in the Periodic Table and have a unique atomic number. Compounds are not listed in the Periodic Table; their properties depend on the elements in them and how they are bonded.
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Elements exist naturally or can be isolated. Compounds are formed when elements undergo chemical reactions and form bonds.
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Elements have distinct physical and chemical properties. Compounds have different properties from their constituent elements.
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Common elements include oxygen (O) and carbon (C). Water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are examples of compounds.
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Pure substance, one type of atom
Two or more elements chemically bonded
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Periodic Table

Listed, with unique atomic numbers
Not listed, properties depend on combination
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Formation

Natural or isolated
Formed through chemical reactions
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Properties

Distinct physical and chemical properties
Different from constituent elements
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Examples

Oxygen (O), Carbon (C)
Water (H2O), Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
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Element and Compound Definitions

Element

An element is a basic substance that cannot be broken down.
Gold (Au) is an element used in jewelry.
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Compound

A compound is a chemical combination of two or more elements.
Water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen.
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Element

Many elements occur naturally.
Oxygen is a naturally occurring element in the air.
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Compound

Compounds result from the bonding of atoms of different elements.
Methane (CH4) is a compound found in natural gas.
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Element

A fundamental, essential, or irreducible constituent of a composite entity.
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Compound

To combine so as to form a whole; mix
Tin was often compounded with lead to make pewter.
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Element

Elements The basic assumptions or principles of a subject.
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Compound

To produce or create by combining two or more ingredients or parts; compose or make up
Pharmacists compounding prescriptions.
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Element

A member of a set.
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Compound

To settle (a debt, for example) by agreeing on an amount less than the claim; adjust.
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Element

A point, line, or plane.
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Compound

To compute (interest) on the principal and accrued interest.
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Element

A part of a geometric configuration, such as an angle in a triangle.
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Compound

To add to or intensify so as to make worse
"The university authorities ... compounded their crime in dismissing [the professor] by denying that their action ... reflected any abridgment of academic freedom" (John Kenneth Galbraith).
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Element

The generatrix of a geometric figure.
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Compound

To make worse by being an additional or intensifying factor
High winds compounded the difficulties of the firefighters.
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Element

Any of the terms in the rectangular array of terms that constitute a matrix or determinant.
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Compound

To combine in or form a compound.
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Element

Chemistry & Physics A substance composed of atoms having an identical number of protons in each nucleus. Elements cannot be reduced to simpler substances by normal chemical means. See Periodic Table.
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Compound

To come to terms; agree.
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Element

One of four substances, earth, air, fire, or water, formerly regarded as a fundamental constituent of the universe.
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Compound

Consisting of two or more substances, ingredients, elements, or parts.
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Element

(Electricity)The resistance wire in an electrical appliance such as a heater or an oven.
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Compound

(Botany) Composed of more than one part
A compound pistil.
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Element

Elements The forces that constitute the weather, especially severe or inclement weather:outside paint that had been damaged by the elements.
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Compound

A combination of two or more elements or parts.
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Element

An environment naturally suited to or associated with an individual:He is in his element when traveling. The business world is her element.
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Compound

(Linguistics) A word that consists either of two or more elements that are independent words, such as loudspeaker, self-portrait, or high school, or of specially modified combining forms of words, such as Greek philosophia, from philo-, "loving," and sophia, "wisdom."
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Element

A distinct group within a larger community:the dissident element on campus.
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Compound

(Chemistry) A pure, macroscopically homogeneous substance consisting of atoms or ions of two or more different elements in definite proportions that cannot be separated by physical means. A compound usually has properties unlike those of its constituent elements.
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Element

A ground unit in an air force comparable to a platoon.
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Compound

A building or buildings, especially a residence or group of residences, set off and enclosed by a barrier.
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Element

A unit of an air force equal to two or three aircraft.
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Compound

An enclosed area used for confining prisoners of war.
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Element

Elements The bread and wine of the Eucharist.
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Compound

An enclosure within which workers, prisoners, or soldiers are confined.
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Element

One of the simplest or essential parts or principles of which anything consists, or upon which the constitution or fundamental powers of anything are based.
Letters are the elements of written language.
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Compound

An enclosure for secure storage.
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Element

(chemistry) Any one of the simplest chemical substances that cannot be decomposed in a chemical reaction or by any chemical means and made up of atoms all having the same number of protons.
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Compound

A group of buildings situated close together, e.g. for a school or block of offices.
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Element

One of the four basic building blocks of matter in theories of ancient philosophers and alchemists: water, earth, fire, and air.
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Compound

Anything made by combining several things.
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Element

A basic, simple substance out of which something is made, raw material.
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Compound

(chemistry) A substance formed by chemical bonding of two or more elements in definite proportions by weight.
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Element

(legal) A required aspect or component of a cause of action. A deed is regarded as a violation of law only if each element can be proved.
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Compound

A substance made from any combination of ingredients.
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Element

(set theory) One of the objects in a set.
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Compound

(linguistics) A lexeme that consists of more than one stem.
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Element

(mathematics) One of the entries of a matrix.
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Compound

(linguistics) A lexeme that consists of more than one stem or an affix, e.g. bookshop, high school or non-standard.
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Element

Any of the teeth of a zip fastener.
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Compound

(rail) A compound locomotive, a steam locomotive with both high-pressure and low-pressure cylinders.
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Element

A small part of the whole.
An element of the picture
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Compound

Composed of elements; not simple.
A compound word
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Element

A small but present amount of a quality, a hint.
An element of doubt
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Compound

(math) Dealing with numbers of various denominations of quantity, or with processes more complex than the simple process.
Compound addition
Compound proportion
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Element

A factor, one of the conditions contributing to a result.
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Compound

(music) An octave higher than originally (i.e. a compound major second is equivalent to a major ninth).
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Element

(obsolete) The sky.
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Compound

(transitive) To form (a resulting mixture) by combining different elements, ingredients, or parts; to mingle with something else.
To compound a medicine
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Element

(obsolete) Any one of the heavenly spheres believed to carry the celestial bodies.
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Compound

To settle by agreeing on less than the claim, or on different terms than those stipulated.
To compound a debt
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Element

Atmospheric forces such as strong winds and rains.
Exposed to the elements
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Compound

(transitive) To settle amicably; to adjust by agreement.
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Element

A place or state of being that an individual or object is best suited to.
To be in one's element
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Compound

(intransitive) To come to terms of agreement; to settle by a compromise.
To compound with someone / for something
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Element

The bread and wine taken at Holy Communion.
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Compound

To compose; to constitute.
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Element

A group of people within a larger group having a particular common characteristic.
You sometimes find the hooligan element at football matches.
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Compound

To increase in value with interest, where the interest is earned on both the principal sum and prior earned interest.
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Element

(in the plural only) The basic principles of a field of knowledge, basics, fundamentals, rudiments.
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Compound

To worsen a situation.
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Element

A component in electrical equipment, often in the form of a coil, having a high resistance, thereby generating heat when a current is passed through it.
The element in this electric kettle can heat the water in under a minute.
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Compound

Of a horse: to fail to maintain speed.
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Element

(mathematics) An infinitesimal interval of a quantity, a differential.
The element of area in Cartesian coordinates is dx dy.
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Compound

In the East Indies, an inclosure containing a house, outbuildings, etc.
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Element

(astronomy) An orbital element; one of the parameters needed to uniquely specify a particular orbit.
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Compound

That which is compounded or formed by the union or mixture of elements ingredients, or parts; a combination of simples; a compound word; the result of composition.
Rare compound of oddity, frolic, and fun.
When the word "bishopric" was first made, it was made as a compound.
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Element

(computing) One of the conceptual objects in a markup language, usually represented in text by tags.
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Compound

A union of two or more ingredients in definite proportions by weight, so combined as to form a distinct substance; as, water is a compound of oxygen and hydrogen.
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Element

(obsolete) To compound of elements.
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Compound

To form or make by combining different elements, ingredients, or parts; as, to compound a medicine.
Incapacitating him from successfully compounding a tale of this sort.
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Element

(obsolete) To constitute and be the elements of.
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Compound

To put together, as elements, ingredients, or parts, in order to form a whole; to combine, mix, or unite.
We have the power of altering and compounding those images into all the varieties of picture.
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Element

One of the simplest or essential parts or principles of which anything consists, or upon which the constitution or fundamental powers of anything are based.
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Compound

To modify or change by combination with some other thing or part; to mingle with something else.
Only compound me with forgotten dust.
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Element

One of the ultimate, undecomposable constituents of any kind of matter. Specifically: (Chem.) A substance which cannot be decomposed into different kinds of matter by any means at present employed; as, the elements of water are oxygen and hydrogen.
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Compound

To compose; to constitute.
His pomp and all what state compounds.
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Element

One of the ultimate parts which are variously combined in anything; as, letters are the elements of written language; hence, also, a simple portion of that which is complex, as a shaft, lever, wheel, or any simple part in a machine; one of the essential ingredients of any mixture; a constituent part; as, quartz, feldspar, and mica are the elements of granite.
The simplicity which is so large an element in a noble nature was laughed to scorn.
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Compound

To settle amicably; to adjust by agreement; to compromise; to discharge from obligation upon terms different from those which were stipulated; as, to compound a debt.
I pray, my lords, let me compound this strife.
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Element

One out of several parts combined in a system of aggregation, when each is of the nature of the whole; as, a single cell is an element of the honeycomb.
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Compound

To effect a composition; to come to terms of agreement; to agree; to settle by a compromise; - usually followed by with before the person participating, and for before the thing compounded or the consideration.
Here's a fellow will help you to-morrow; . . . compound with him by the year.
They were at last glad to compound for his bare commitment to the Tower.
Cornwall compounded to furnish ten oxen after Michaelmas for thirty pounds.
Compound for sins they are inclined toBy damning those they have no mind to.
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Element

One of the simplest essential parts, more commonly called cells, of which animal and vegetable organisms, or their tissues and organs, are composed.
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Compound

Composed of two or more elements, ingredients, parts; produced by the union of several ingredients, parts, or things; composite; as, a compound word.
Compound substances are made up of two or more simple substances.
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Element

An infinitesimal part of anything of the same nature as the entire magnitude considered; as, in a solid an element may be the infinitesimal portion between any two planes that are separated an indefinitely small distance. In the calculus, element is sometimes used as synonymous with differential.
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Compound

(chemistry) a substance formed by chemical union of two or more elements or ingredients in definite proportion by weight
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Element

One of the necessary data or values upon which a system of calculations depends, or general conclusions are based; as, the elements of a planet's orbit.
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Compound

A whole formed by a union of two or more elements or parts
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Element

The simplest or fundamental principles of any system in philosophy, science, or art; rudiments; as, the elements of geometry, or of music.
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Compound

An enclosure of residences and other building (especially in the Orient)
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Element

Any outline or sketch, regarded as containing the fundamental ideas or features of the thing in question; as, the elements of a plan.
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Compound

Make more intense, stronger, or more marked;
The efforts were intensified
Her rudeness intensified his dislike for her
Potsmokers claim it heightens their awareness
This event only deepened my convictions
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Element

One of the simple substances, as supposed by the ancient philosophers; one of the imaginary principles of matter.
Of elementsThe grosser feeds the purer: Earth the Sea;Earth and the Sea feed Air; the Air those FiresEthereal.
Does not our life consist of the four elements?
And the complexion of the element [i. e.,the sky or air]In favor's like the work we have in hand,Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.
About twelve ounces [of food], with mere element for drink.
They show that they are out of their element.
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Compound

Put or add together;
Combine resources
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Element

The conditions and movements of the air.
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Compound

Calculate principal and interest
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Element

The whole material composing the world.
The elements shall melt with fervent heat.
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Compound

Create by mixing or combining
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Element

The bread and wine used in the eucharist or Lord's supper.
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Compound

Combine so as to form a whole; mix;
Compound the ingredients
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Element

To compound of elements or first principles.
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Compound

Of leaf shapes; of leaves composed of several similar parts or lobes
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Element

To constitute; to make up with elements.
His very soul was elemented of nothing but sadness.
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Compound

Consisting of two or more substances or ingredients or elements or parts;
Soap is a compound substance
Housetop is a compound word
A blackberry is a compound fruit
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Element

An abstract part of something;
Jealousy was a component of his character
Two constituents of a musical composition are melody and harmony
The grammatical elements of a sentence
A key factor in her success
Humor: an effective ingredient of a speech
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Compound

Composed of many distinct individuals united to form a whole or colony;
Coral is a colonial organism
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Element

Any of the more than 100 known substances (of which 92 occur naturally) that cannot be separated into simpler substances and that singly or in combination constitute all matter
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Compound

Compounds have properties different from their elements.
Sodium chloride (table salt) is a compound very different from its elements.
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Element

An artifact that is one of the individual parts of which a composite entity is made up; especially a part that can be separated from or attached to a system;
Spare components for cars
A component or constituent element of a system
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Compound

Compounds are represented by chemical formulas.
Carbon dioxide's formula is CO2.
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Element

One of four substances thought in ancient and medieval cosmology to constitute the physical universe;
The alchemists believed that there were four elements
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Compound

Compounds are formed through chemical reactions.
Photosynthesis produces the compound glucose.
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Element

The most favorable environment for a plant or animal;
Water is the element of fishes
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Element

The situation in which you are happiest and most effective;
In your element
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Element

A straight line that generates a cylinder or cone
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Element

Each element has a unique atomic identity.
The element carbon forms the basis of life.
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Element

Elements are listed on the Periodic Table.
Helium is a noble gas element on the Periodic Table.
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Element

Elements are building blocks of matter.
Iron is an important element in steel production.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is a compound?

A substance made of two or more different elements bonded together.
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Can compounds be broken down?

Yes, into their constituent elements by chemical reactions.
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How many elements are there?

118 elements are currently known.
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What’s an example of a compound?

Water (H2O) is a common compound.
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Can elements exist in different forms?

Yes, such as allotropes like carbon in graphite and diamond.
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What is an element?

A pure substance made of one type of atom.
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Is oxygen an element or compound?

Oxygen is an element.
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How are compounds formed?

Through chemical reactions between elements.
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Are all compounds liquid?

No, compounds can be solid, liquid, or gas.
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Is gold (Au) an element?

Yes, gold is a chemical element.
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Are elements found in the periodic table?

Yes, all elements are listed in the Periodic Table.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

What’s the difference between organic and inorganic compounds?

Organic compounds contain carbon, inorganic compounds generally do not.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Do elements have a fixed atomic structure?

Yes, each element has a specific atomic structure.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

What are molecular compounds?

Compounds formed by the sharing of electrons, typically between nonmetals.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

What role do elements play in chemistry?

They are the fundamental building blocks of all matter.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can compounds conduct electricity?

Some can, like saltwater, while others cannot.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Is hydrogen an element?

Yes, hydrogen is the first element on the Periodic Table.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Do compounds have unique properties?

Yes, distinct from the properties of their constituent elements.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can compounds be natural or synthetic?

They can be both, like natural water or synthetic plastic.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Can an element become a compound?

Yes, when it chemically bonds with another element.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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