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neutral atom

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1 Answer

First some definitions:

neutral atom:         # protons = # electrons
ion:                       atom with a charge (too many or too few electrons compared to # protons)
radical (free rad.):   atom, molecule or ion with unpaired valence electron(s) or open electron shell

Technically, oxygen is neutral. But then you have to ask yourself why oxygen is sooo reactive?

If it is neutral, then it cannot be an ion. Since oxygen has two unpaired electrons in its outer shell, it is a radical.  The geometry of the atom (two empty slots just waiting for covalent bonds) is why it is reactive and why we find oxygen in nature in the O2 state instead of the O state. O2 molecules provide stability until a better opportunity comes along. The better opportunity would be negatively charged ions (anions), ions with electrons to give.