By the end of gen chem, calculating oxidation states of different metals should be pretty familiar.
Any two bonds between the same atom do not affect the oxidation state (recall that the oxidation state of Cl in Cl-Cl (and that of H in H-H) is zero. So unlike metals, which are almost always in a positive oxidation state, the oxidation state of carbon can vary widely, from -4 (in CH4) to +4 (such as in CO2).


I redid it slightly just now to make it more general and less specific (now listing the oxidation state of any methylene carbon, not just the oxidation state of propane). About Master Organic Chemistry Imagine having a comprehensive online guide to help you solve your own problems in organic chemistry.
But the oxidation state formalism helps us keep track of where the electrons are going, which will come in handy very soon).


That means the more electronegative elements (like chlorine, say, or oxygen) bear negative charges, and the less electronegative element (such as the metal) bears the positive charge.



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