Why are intermolecular forces considered weaker than intramolecular forces?

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megamind-616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Intermolecular forces are forces of attraction or repulsion between different neighboring particles such as molecules, compounds, ions, or atoms (inter = between). Examples of intermolecular forces are dipole-dipole, hydrogen bonds, London dispersion forces, and Vand der Waals forces. Intramolecular forces are forces within a compound or molecule (intra = inside). Examples of intramolecular forces include all types of chemical bonds, such as covalent or ionic bonds. Intramolecular forces are stronger because they involve the actual sharing of electrons when within a covalent bond. Also, intramolecular forces are stronger because the electronegativity differences between the atoms involved in such bond is greater than the electronegativity difference between intermolecular forces. 

If the electronegativity difference is less than .5, then the bond is considered non-polar covalent. 

If the electronegativity difference is between .5 and 1.6, then it is considered polar covalent (two polar molecules could share intermolecular forces, such as hydrogen bonds).

A difference greater than 1.6 results in an ionic bond. 


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