Lewis Structure of PCl5 (With 5 Simple Steps to Draw!)

Lewis structure of PCl5

Ready to learn how to draw the lewis structure of PCl5?


Here, I have explained 5 simple steps to draw the lewis dot structure of PCl5 (along with images).

So, if you are ready to go with these 5 simple steps, then let’s dive right into it!

Lewis structure of PCl5 contains five single bonds between the Phosphorus (P) atom and each Chlorine (Cl) atom. The Phosphorus atom (P) is at the center and it is surrounded by 5 Chlorine atoms (Cl). The Phosphorus atom does not have a lone pair while all the 5 Chlorine atoms have 3 lone pairs.

Let’s draw and understand this lewis dot structure step by step.

(Note: Take a pen and paper with you and try to draw this lewis structure along with me. I am sure you will definitely learn how to draw lewis structure of PCl5).

5 Steps to Draw the Lewis Structure of PCl5

Step #1: Calculate the total number of valence electrons

Here, the given molecule is PCl5 (Phosphorus pentachloride). In order to draw the lewis structure of PCl5, first of all you have to find the total number of valence electrons present in the PCl5 molecule.
(Valence electrons are the number of electrons present in the outermost shell of an atom).

So, let’s calculate this first.

Calculation of valence electrons in PCl5

  • For Phosphorus: 

Phosphorus is a group 15 element on the periodic table. [1]

Hence, the valence electrons present in phosphorus is 5 (see below image).

  • For Chlorine:

Chlorine is a group 17 element on the periodic table. [2]

Hence, the valence electron present in chlorine is 7 (see below image).

Hence in a PCl5 molecule, 

Valence electrons given by Phosphorus (P) atom = 5
Valence electron given by each Chlorine (Cl) atom = 7
So, total number of Valence electrons in PCl5 molecule = 5 + 7(5) = 40

Step #2: Select the center atom

While selecting the atom, always put the least electronegative atom at the center. 

(Remember: Fluorine is the most electronegative element on the periodic table and the electronegativity decreases as we move right to left in the periodic table as well as top to bottom in the periodic table). [3]

Here in the PCl5 molecule, if we compare the phosphorus atom (P) and chlorine atom (Cl), then the phosphorus is less electronegative than chlorine.

So, phosphorus should be placed in the center and the remaining 5 chlorine atoms will surround it.

step 1

Step #3: Put two electrons between the atoms to represent a chemical bond

Now in the above sketch of PCl5 molecule, put the two electrons (i.e electron pair) between each phosphorus atom and chlorine atom to represent a chemical bond between them.

step 2

These pairs of electrons present between the Phosphorus (P) and Chlorine (Cl) atoms form a chemical bond, which bonds the phosphorus and chlorine atoms with each other in a PCl5 molecule.

Step #4: Complete the octet (or duplet) on outside atoms. If the valence electrons are left, then put the valence electrons pair on the central atom

Don’t worry, I’ll explain!

In the Lewis structure of PCl5, the outer atoms are chlorine atoms.

So now, you have to complete the octet on these chlorine atoms (because chlorine requires 8 electrons to have a complete outer shell).

step 3

Now, you can see in the above image that all the chlorine atoms form an octet.

Also, all the 40 valence electrons of PCl5 molecule (as calculated in step #1) are used in the above structure. So there are no remaining electron pairs.

Hence there is no change in the above sketch of PCl5.

Let’s move to the next step.

Step #5: Final step – Check the stability of lewis structure by calculating the formal charge on each atom

Now, you have come to the final step and here you have to check the formal charge on phosphorus atom (P) as well as each chlorine atom (Cl).

For that, you need to remember the formula of formal charge;

Formal charge = Valence electrons – Nonbonding electrons – (Bonding electrons)/2

step 4
  • For Phosphorus:
    Valence electrons = 5 (as it is in group 15)
    Nonbonding electrons = 0
    Bonding electrons = 10
  • For Chlorine:
    Valence electron = 7 (as it is in group 17)
    Nonbonding electrons = 6
    Bonding electrons = 2
Formal charge=Valence electronsNonbonding electrons(Bonding electrons)/2

So you can see above that the formal charges on phosphorus as well as chlorine are “zero”.

Hence, there will not be any change in the above structure and the above lewis structure of PCl5 is the final stable structure only.

Each electron pair (:) in the lewis dot structure of PCl5 represents the single bond ( | ). So the above lewis dot structure of PCl5 can also be represented as shown below.

PCl5 lewis structure

Related lewis structures for your practice:
Lewis structure of H2O2
Lewis structure of F2
Lewis structure of CH2Cl2
Lewis structure of ClO2-
Lewis structure of ClO3-

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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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