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What Is the Difference Between a Cation and an Anion?

Cation vs. Anion

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A cation has a positive charge.

A cation has a positive charge.

Todd Helmenstine

Cations and anions are both ions. The difference between a cation and an anion is the net electrical charge of the ion.

Ions are atoms or molecules which have gained or lost one or more valence electrons giving the ion a net positive or negative charge.

Cations are ions with a net positive charge.

Silver: Ag+, hydronium: H3O+, and ammonium: NH4+

Anions are ions with a net negative charge.

Examples: hydroxide anion: OH-, oxide anion: O2-, and sulfate anion: SO42-

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