Science, Tech, Math › Science 20 Examples of Elements and Their Symbols Share Flipboard Email Print Illustration by J.R. Bee. ThoughtCo. Science Chemistry Periodic Table Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated March 14, 2019 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. These elements include some of the most abundant in the universe (hydrogen, oxygen, carbon) as well as some of the most unusual (phosphorus, boron). H - HydrogenHe - HeliumLi - LithiumBe - BerylliumB - BoronC - CarbonN - NitrogenO - OxygenF - FluorineNe - NeonNa - SodiumMg - MagnesiumAl - AluminumSi - SiliconP - PhosphorusS - SulfurCl - ChlorineAr - ArgonK - PotassiumCa - 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.