20 Examples of Elements and Their Symbols

Argon
Argon is the current carrier in this discharge tube, while mercury is what produces the glow. Pslawinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

Chemical elements are the basic building blocks of matter. Elements are referred to by their names and their symbols, which make it easier to write chemical structures and equations.

Examples

The first 20 elements of the periodic table are listed below. They include some of the most abundant elements in the universe (hydrogen, oxygen, carbon) as well as some of the most unusual (phosphorus, boron).

  1. H - Hydrogen
  1. He - Helium
  2. Li - Lithium
  3. Be - Beryllium
  4. B - Boron
  5. C - Carbon
  6. N - Nitrogen
  7. O - Oxygen
  8. F - Fluorine
  9. Ne - Neon
  10. Na - Sodium
  11. Mg - Magnesium
  12. Al - Aluminum
  13. Si - Silicon
  14. P - Phosphorus
  15. S - Sulfur
  16. Cl - Chlorine
  17. Ar - Argon
  18. K - Potassium
  19. Ca - Calcium

Notice that the symbols are one- and two-letter abbreviations for their names, with a few exceptions where symbols are based on old names. For example, potassium is K for kalium, not P, which is already the element symbol for phosphorus.