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Difference Between Element and Compound for JEE Main 2024

Last updated date: 20th Jun 2024
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Chemistry is an essential subject of the curriculum of science students. Students should learn chemistry correctly to study science in their future academic life. The two most important factors of this subject are each element and compound. The overall subject of chemistry is based on these two factors. Hence, students should have a clear concept of elements and compounds.  


In this article, we will discuss the definitions of elements and compounds as well as the difference between them. One of the important topics in chemistry is the difference between element and compound. All the chemistry students must read this topic. They should know the element and compound first. After learning the definitions, the students can read the element and compound differences efficiently.


What is an Element?

Element is a chemical material, which contains a single type of atom. The particles have the same atomic number in the periodic table. Chemical elements are classified into three types, which are metals, non-metals, and metalloids. 

  1. Metals: The metals are available on the left of the periodic table. The metals have the properties of electro-conductivity, magnetic, malleable, shiny, etc. Some examples of metals are copper, aluminium, gold, iron, mercury, etc. 

  2. Non-metals: The non-metal elements are located on the right side of the periodic table. They are not malleable, not magnetic, not electro-conductive, and shiny. Two important examples of non-metals are oxygen and carbon. 

  3. Metalloids: Now comes to the medium elements that are called metalloids. They have some mixed properties of metals and nonmetals. Silicon and arsenic are two metalloids. These are the main properties, classification of elements in chemistry.


What is a Compound?

A compound is a chemical material consisting of more than one type of atom. Generally, more than one different kind of element forms a compound. The elements are connected with covalent or ionic bonds in the compounds. Two distinct elements form a bond between their atoms, and they are combined into a chemical compound. 


For example, we are taking NaCl. Sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl) come together and form an ionic bond. By that bond, they are combined and form sodium chloride (NaCl). Pure chemical compounds do not exist in the real world. Every chemical compound has a unique structure with a fixed atom ratio. 


These are some specific types of chemical compounds and they are:

  • Molecular compounds with the covalent bond.

  • Intermolecular compounds with the metallic bond.

  • Salts with the ionic bond.

  • Complex compounds with coordinate covalent bonds.


Difference Between Element and Compound

Now, we are going to discuss the difference between compound and element in detail. 


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 The difference between elements and compounds are given below.





Elements are pure substances that are made from only one type of atom.

Compounds are substances that are composed of two or more than two different types of elements that are bonded by some kind of bonding.

Total numbers

Around 94 elements are found naturally on the Earth and there are 118 elements found.

There is no fixed number of compounds. The number of compounds is endless or infinite.


Elements are classified into metals, nonmetals, and metalloids.

The compounds are classified on the basis of their bonding such as covalent compounds, ionic compounds, etc.


Elements are represented by chemical symbols.

Compounds are represented by their chemical formula.

Ability to breakdown

Any chemical reaction is not able to break down elements.

They can be broken down into elements or they form new compounds with the help of some chemical reactions.


Sodium (Na), iron (Fe), copper (Cu), silver (Ag), etc.

Sodium chloride (NaCl), water (H2O), calcium chloride (CaCl2), etc. 


Difference between Elements aAnd Compounds 

Elements are formed with the same types of atoms. For example, we are considering oxygen (O2). Oxygen is formed with two oxygen (O) atoms of the same kind, atomic number, and properties. Compounds are constructed with more than one type of atom. For example, we are taking water (H2O). Water is formed with two hydrogen (H) and one oxygen (O) atom. Water is constructed by the covalent bond between H and O atoms. That is why water has various properties.


Solved Examples

  1. Sort out the eElements and compounds from the given chemical materials – NaOH, CO2, N2, C2H2, H2, He2, H2O2, Cl2.



Elements – N2, H2, He2, Cl2.


Compounds – NaOH, CO2, C2H2, H2O2.


  1. Write the bond type of the given compounds –

NaCl, H2O, Al6Mn, [CoCl3(NH3)3]


NaCl – Iron bond


H2O – Covalent bond


Al6Mn – Metallic bond


[CoCl3(NH3)3] – Coordinate covalent bond


  1. What is the main fFactor of difference between element and compound?

Solution: The main differentiating factor between element and compound is the atom type.


Hence, the above article is a concept building article as it provides the basic concept of element and compounds and their key difference. The given examples of elements and compounds are helpful for better understanding the concept of elements and compounds.

FAQs on Difference Between Element and Compound for JEE Main 2024

1. Give differences between element and compound.

Elements are pure materials containing one type of atom. Compounds include more than one kind of atom. Elements are classified depending on their properties, and compounds are ranked based on their bond type. Symbols represent elements, and compounds are defined by their chemical formulas. Their atomic number identifies elements. Their atomic ratio separates compounds. Chemical reactions cannot break down elements, but they can break down the compounds.


This is the main difference between compound and element. Some other factors differentiate between element and compound, such as total numbers, properties, composition, examples, etc. The periodic table includes 118 elements. The compounds are uncountable. The elements have the properties of their parent atom. The compounds do not have specific properties, and the properties vary with the bond type.

2. Why is it essential to read the difference between element and compound?

Elements and compounds are the two vital materials of chemistry. The entire subject is dependent on these two materials. To learn chemistry correctly, the students should understand the primary concept of chemistry. As the prior knowledge and introduction of chemistry, they have to read about elements and compounds. As elements and compounds are two different chemistry materials, the students have to read the differences between them. At first, the students will study the definition and properties of elements and compounds. After that, they will read the difference between compound and element. This knowledge of chemistry will help them in their higher academic career.