THE PERIODIC TABLE
Fundamentals of Chemistry
The obvious trend in the periodic table is that from left to right, across any period, the
elements change from distinctly metallic (Group IA) to distinctly nonmetallic
(Group VIIA). This change in character is not sharply defined, but is gradual.
Generally, elements well to the left of the heavy diagonal line are metals, and those well
to the right are nonmetals. Some of the elements near the line, however, exhibit
properties of metals under some conditions and properties of nonmetals under other
conditions. These elements are called the semi-metals and include boron (B),
silicon (Si), germanium (Ge), arsenic (As), and tellurium (Te). They are usually
classified as semi-conductors of electricity and are widely used in electrical components.
Each set of elements appearing in the vertical column of a periodic table is called a Group and
represents a family of elements that have similar physical and chemical properties. Group IA
is the Alkali Family; Group IIA is the Alkaline Earth Family; Group VIA is the Oxygen Family;
Group VIIA is the Halogen Family. On the left side of the table are Group IA elements (except
hydrogen), which are soft metals that undergo similar chemical reactions. The elements in
Group IIA form similar compounds and are much harder than their neighbors in Group IA.
As shown in the previous section, there are some exceptions to the generalizations concerning
chemical properties and the periodic table. The most accurate observation is that all elements
within a particular group have similar physical and chemical properties.
This observation is most accurate at the extreme sides of the table. All elements in Group 0 are
unreactive gases, and all elements in Group VIIA have similar chemical properties, although
there is a gradual change in physical properties. For example, fluorine (F) is a gas while
iodine (I) is a solid at room temperature.
Groups with a B designation (IB through VIIB) and Group VIII are called transition groups.
In this region of the table, exceptions begin to appear. Within any group in this region, all the
elements are metals, but their chemical properties may differ. In some cases, an element may
be more similar to neighbors within its period than it is to elements in its group. For example,
iron (Fe) is more similar to cobalt (Co) and nickel (Ni) than it is to ruthenium (Ru) and
osmium (Os). Most of these elements have several charges, and their ions in solution are
colored (ions of all other elements are colorless).
The line separating metals from nonmetals cuts across several groups. In this region of the
table, the rule of group similarities loses much of its usefulness. In Group IVA, for example,
carbon (C) is a nonmetal; silicon (Si) and germanium (Ge) are semi-metals; and tin (Sn) and
lead (Pb) are metals.