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Is sodium nitrate polar or nonpolar and how do I figure this out? thanks

You need to consult your text or your notes to see what you teacher calls ionic and what s/he calls covalent. Generally, a difference in electronegativity (you can look up the EN values for Na and for O or N) of 1.8 or so is called ionic and less than that is called covalent. But there is no sharp dividing line. For those in between we have polar covalent. I hope this helps.

.5-2 is polar covalent. i know there is a chart that says if sodium's electronegativity, but i can find no chart for nitrate

There is no chart for nitrate. You will need to look up N or O since the nitrate ion is NO3-

that doesn't make sense. how can you do just n or just o? aren't they connected?

If they are ionic, no. The salt will be present in water is the sodium ion with a +1 charge and the nitrate ion with a -1 charge. So whether it is ionic or not depends upon the electronegativity difference between Na and either N or O. In a sea of ions, it doesn't make all that much difference which you use. In addition, there is no sharp dividing line between what we consider ionic and what we consider covalent. Generally, most sodium salts are ionic. There are exceptions.

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