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What is a nonmetal in chemistry?

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Quick Answer

A nonmetal element in chemistry is an element that does not possess the properties of metals, and is found in the groups 14, 15 and 16 of the periodic table. Unlike metals, nonmetals are poor conductors and typically have more than four valence electrons.

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Full Answer

Nonmetals have a wide variety of properties and with a few exceptions, share similar traits. In general, nonmetals are volatile, which means they exist mostly in gas or liquid forms. Additionally, they usually form covalent bonds instead of ionic bonds. Finally, nonmetals are almost all good insulators, which means they prevent electricity from flowing through.

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