Is SO2Cl2 Polar or Nonpolar? (And Why?)

Is SO2Cl2 Polar or Nonpolar

SO2Cl2 is a POLAR molecule.

But why? 

And how can you say that SO2Cl2 is a polar molecule?

Want to know the reason?
Let’s dive into it!

SO2Cl2 is a POLAR molecule because the S=O bonds and S-Cl bonds present in the molecule are polar and it has asymmetric geometry which causes the partial positive (ẟ+) and partial negative (ẟ-) charge to appear on the molecule. These ẟ+ and ẟ- charges are responsible to make the entire SO2Cl2 molecule polar.

Let me explain this in detail with the help of SO2Cl2 lewis structure and its 3D geometry.

Why is SO2Cl2 a Polar molecule? (Explained in 3 Steps)

SO2Cl2 is a polar molecule because it has poles of partial positive charge (ẟ+) and partial negative charge (ẟ-) on it.

Let me explain this to you in 3 steps!

Step #1: Draw the lewis structure

Here is a skeleton of SO2Cl2 lewis structure and it contains two S=O bonds and two S-Cl bonds.

Is SO2Cl2 Polar or Nonpolar

(Note: If you want to know the steps of drawing the SO2Cl2 lewis dot structure, then visit this article: SO2Cl2 lewis structure, Or you can also watch this short 2 minute video).

So from the above diagram we have come to know that the SO2Cl2 molecule has two S=O bond and two S-Cl bonds.

Now in the next step we have to check whether these bonds are polar or nonpolar.

And we also have to check the molecular geometry of SO2Cl2.

Step #2: Check whether individual bonds are polar or nonpolar

The chemical bonds can be either nonpolar, polar or ionic depending on the difference of the electronegativity values (ΔEN) between the two atoms.

Have a look at the above image.

  • If the electronegativity difference (ΔEN) is less than 0.4, then the bond is nonpolar covalent bond.
  • If the electronegativity difference (ΔEN) is between 0.4 to 1.7, then the bond is polar covalent bond. 
  • If the electronegativity difference (ΔEN) is greater than 1.7, then the bond is an ionic bond. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Now let’s come to the example of SO2Cl2 molecule. It has one S=O bonds and two S-Cl bonds.

You can see the electronegativity values of Sulfur (S), Oxygen (O) and Chlorine (Cl) atoms from the periodic table given below.

From the above image;

  • Electronegativity of Sulfur (S) = 2.58 [5]
  • Electronegativity of Oxygen (O) = 3.44 [6]
  • Electronegativity of Chlorine (Cl) = 3.16 [7]

Now let’s see the polarity of each bond.

For S=O bond;
The electronegativity difference (ΔEN) = 3.44 – 2.58 = 0.86
This value lies between 0.4 to 1.7, which indicates that the bond between Sulfur (S) and Oxygen (O) is polar.
Hence, each S=O bond is a polar covalent bond.

For S-Cl bond;
The electronegativity difference (ΔEN) = 3.16 – 2.58 = 0.58
This value lies between 0.4 to 2.0, which indicates that the bond between Sulfur (S) and Chlorine (Cl) is polar.
Hence, each S-Cl bond is a polar covalent bond.

Is SO2Cl2 Polar or Nonpolar

You can see in the above image that because of large electronegativity difference of Sulfur and Oxygen atoms, the partial positive charge (ẟ+) appears on the Sulfur atom (S) and partial negative charge (ẟ-) appears on the Oxygen atoms (O) as well as Chlorine atoms (Cl).

(Note: There is more negative charge on oxygen atoms as compared to chlorine atoms, because oxygen is more electronegative than chlorine.)

But wait, we also have to look at the molecular geometry of SO2Cl2 to know whether it has a symmetric shape or not.

Step #3: Check whether the molecule is symmetric or not

Have a look at this 3D structure of SO2Cl2. The Sulfur atom (S) is at the center and it is surrounded by 2 Oxygen atoms (O) and 2 Chlorine atoms (Cl).

Is SO2Cl2 Polar or Nonpolar

It has asymmetric geometry because of different bond lengths and difference in electronegativity of S=O bonds and S-Cl bonds.

Because of this, there are positive and negative poles of charges on the overall molecule of SO2Cl2.

Hence, the SO2Cl2 molecule is a polar molecule.

I hope you have understood the reason behind the polar nature of SO2Cl2 molecule.

See the polarity of other molecules to make your concepts clear:
Is SbF3 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is SeF2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is C2Cl4 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is BeBr2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is AsCl3 Polar or Nonpolar?


Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. With a desire to make learning accessible for everyone, he founded Knords Learning, an online learning platform that provides students with easily understandable explanations.

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