Explain why the water molecule is V-shaped with 104 degrees.

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enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Water is composed of two hydrogen atoms covalently bonded to a single oxygen atom.  Each hydrogen atom shares a pair of electrons with the oxygen atom, resulting in a slight positive charge on the hydrogen atoms and a slight negative charge on the oxygen atom, otherwise known as a "dipole moment" or polar charge.  Normally, the molecule would have tetrahedral geometry with 109.5 degrees between atoms, but the molecule actually has a non-linear geometry because the negative charges try to minimize their overlap, and the angle is reduced slightly to 104.5 degrees.