Why Are the Elements in Groups 1A-8A Called the Representative Elements?


The periodic table of elements is made up of all the primary elements discovered by man and is divided into two groups: representative and transition. The representative elements are groups I and II on the left, and III through VIII on the table. There are many reasons why these elements are grouped together and called the representative elements.

Basic Chemistry Overview

  • The elements are made up of protons, electrons and neutrons, and together they make up the overall structure of the element. Protons have a positive charge, electrons have a negative charge and neutrons have no charge. The element's electron configuration is made up of the chemical bonds created by valance electrons into a shell. The number of valance electrons determines how it reacts with other chemicals. Electrons shells that are full tend to be inert and not react with other elements or chemicals.


  • Each of the eight groups of representative elements have a set number of valance electrons, unlike the transition elements. The electron shells of the elements are predictable and are, therefore, considered representative. The properties of these elements can be predicted based on their electron shell configuration as well as their reaction with other chemicals.

Valance Electrons

  • The group number of the elements details the number of valance electrons in their shells. For example, group I has a single valance electron, and are called the alkali metals, while elements in Group VIII have eight valance electrons, and are called noble gases. Their shells are full and have little reaction with other elements.


  • The group I alkali metals are soft and can be cut by a knife, and are water soluble. Group II alkali earth metals are harder than Group I, and are too reactive to occur naturally. Halogens in group VII are not metals and are highly reactive. The final group is made up of noble gases, which are stable. It is difficult to gain or lose electrons with noble gases.


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