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
  2. He - Helium
  3. Li - Lithium
  4. Be - Beryllium
  5. B - Boron
  6. C - Carbon
  7. N - Nitrogen
  8. O - Oxygen
  9. F - Fluorine
  10. Ne - Neon
  11. Na - Sodium
  12. Mg - Magnesium
  13. Al - Aluminum
  14. Si - Silicon
  15. P - Phosphorus
  16. S - Sulfur
  17. Cl - Chlorine
  18. Ar - Argon
  19. K - Potassium
  20. 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.