Confusion about oxidation states.

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    I thought electrons were only transferred in ionic bonds so why is there stuff about electrons being transferred in covalent bonds? Aren't the bonds between sulphur and oxygen atoms covalent in a sulphate (SO4 2-) ion? So why is there talk about sulfur having an oxidation state of +6 and the oxygens each having an oxidation state of -2. Where in that covalent bond does the sulphur transfer 6 electrons and where do the oxygens each gain 2 electrons? I'm sorry if my question isn't clear, I can't explain it that well, but hopefully you got the gist of it. Thanks.
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    (Original post by mosam00)
    I thought electrons were only transferred in ionic bonds so why is there stuff about electrons being transferred in covalent bonds? Aren't the bonds between sulphur and oxygen atoms covalent in a sulphate (SO4 2-) ion? So why is there talk about sulfur having an oxidation state of +6 and the oxygens each having an oxidation state of -2. Where in that covalent bond does the sulphur transfer 6 electrons and where do the oxygens each gain 2 electrons? I'm sorry if my question isn't clear, I can't explain it that well, but hopefully you got the gist of it. Thanks.
    They are theoretical oxidation states, to help us keep track of electrons in reactions
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    (Original post by langlitz)
    They are theoretical oxidation states, to help us keep track of electrons in reactions
    I'm sorry i don't completely understand what you mean by 'keep track of electrons in reactions'
 
 
 
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